Silvia Piccollo (Ester), Elisa Franzetti (Speranza Celeste), Vicky Norrington (Mardocheo), Matteo Armanino (Assuero), Debora Parodi (Un’ebrea), Francesco Lambertini (Testo prima parte) & Francesca Rota (Testo seconda parte)
Il Concento, Luca Franco Ferrari
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Stradella’s music is as adventurous as was his life and his many fine works receive more and more attention from both press and public. The oratorio Ester, Liberatrix of the Hebrew People, draws on the Old Testament story of Esther, a source of high drama and passion. Excellent Italian line up of soloists, and an ensemble playing authentic instruments, conducted by Luca Franco Ferrari.
Over the centuries since his death, the scandalous, life of Alessandro Stradella (1639–1682) has captured the interest of listeners and scholars more than his compositions, influential though they were during his lifetime. The Italian composer’s adventures, which included dangerous love affairs, an attempted assassination and the stabbing that ended his life, have inspired novelists, opera composers and film directors. Yet Stradella’s music is every bit as colourful and intriguing as his biography.
His oratorio Ester, liberatrice del popolo Hebreo, based on the Old Testament story of Esther, whose bravery saves the Jews from slaughter and exposes the wickedness of the King’s counsellor Haman, exemplifies the composer’s distinctive style, while conforming to the traditions of the 17th-century oratorio. Moral teaching, vocal virtuosity and sinuous melodies are combined, in a work that expresses plethora of affects and emotions – from Esther’s sorrow to Haman’s malevolence.
In this fine recording, the world premiere performance, Il Concento and a group of accomplished soloists deliver a thoroughly researched and historically informed performance (using period instruments), led by the acclaimed conductor Luca Franco Ferrari, a Renaissance and Baroque specialist. This is just one in a series of Stradella recordings issued by Brilliant Classics, who are spearheading the revival of this fascinating composer; those who enjoyed this year’s earlier recording of the oratorio La Susanna will be eager to add Ester to their collections.
Awards Issue 2012
“Meritorious music includes the stile antico Hebrew chorus conveying lamentation of impending doom ('Armati sol d'oltraggio'), the bullying bass Aman's sarcastic instruction for the Hebrews to weep ('Piangete pur, piangete') and Esther's emotive petition to Assuero”