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Giuseppe PORSILE (1680-1750)
Mannaggia Amore
Cantata “Le sofferte amare pene” [14:27]
Andante from Il Giorno Felice (1723) [1:18]
Cantata XXII “Qual per ignoto calle” [13:00]
Menuet I & II from Dialoge Pastorale a Cinque Voci (1732) [2:26]
Cantata “Violetta gentil” [13:03]
Cantata sopra l’Arcecalascione “Sfogandose ‘no Juorno” (c.1707) [6:21]
[Sonata a] Flauto Soli [6:24]
Cantata P[rim]a “E giŗ tre volte” [12:49]
Stefanie True (soprano), La Cicala Baroque Ensemble/InÍs d’Avena (recorder)
rec. 2019, Oude Kerk, Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands.
PASSACAILLE 1061 [69:49]

This is La Cicala’s third album to appear on the Passacaille label, being preceded by Dolce Napoli (review) and Naples 1759 (review). Both of these were purely instrumental programmes, and for Managgia Amore they are joined by Canadian-born soprano Stefanie True, another product of the Early Music department of the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague with a fine ongoing international career both on stage and in recordings such as Purcell’s King Arthur on Alpha Classics (review).

Giuseppe Porsile is by no means a well-known figure today, but his contemporary prominence was reflected in a career that took him from his native Naples to Barcelona in 1707, and thence to Vienna and the court of Habsburg Emperor Charles VI where he remained in service for nearly three decades. This fine sounding music stands witness to his skill as a composer, and with the excellent musicianship of La Cicala this is an enticing prospect with premiere recordings as an added attraction.

Dr. InÍs d’Avena’s research has made these performances possible, and her introduction in the booklet outlines a few adaptations and reconstructions made on the basis of these scores and manuscripts, none of which would be cause for complaint even with these decisions pointed out. Found in a variety of locations, the secular cantatas performed here are largely composed on texts that deal with themes of love, some with elaborate allegories and allusions to nature. The settings are appropriately expressive and dramatic, and with some virtuoso elaborations all taken with elegant ease by Stefanie True, whose clear tone, decorative use of vibrato and convincing Italian all add a special quality of refinement and depth. The recorded balance has the solo voice at more or less the same level as the instruments, making for a glorious ensemble effect. Only ‘Qual per ignoto calle’ is of doubtful origin, having previously been attributed to Vivaldi, the version with soprano recorded here however marked with Porsile’s name. The majority of these works “represent the mature phase of Porsile’s compositional style” and are beautiful examples of this genre.

The instrumental intermezzos add variety, but the [Sonata a] Flauto Soli is of interest in its own right. This has been inventively reconstructed from an incomplete source, and suitable music by Porsile was found to complete most of the second movement. The ‘solo’ aspect actually means flute with harpsichord accompaniment, but the whole makes for an entertaining piece with some opportunity for d’Avena to flex her considerable recorder chops in the outer movements.

As ever, those seeking to explore fine Baroque music beyond the most familiar names will find much to enjoy here. The rich acoustic of the Oude Kerk in Zwijndrecht adds its generous resonance to the sound but there is plenty of detail in the recording, and you’ll greatly appreciate La Cicala’s crisply translucent and authentic sound.

Dominy Clements

Saran DeCorso (violin), Shizuko Noiri (archlute), Rebecca Rosen (cello), Claudio Ribeiro (harpsichord)

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