Monday, May 30, 2011

Steffani - Suites Theatrales - Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca







Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) is probably a nebulous figure for modern listeners, even those devoted to early music. Unlike most baroque composers, he composed almost no instrumental music, so his music has had to wait for the revival of baroque opera in the last decade or so to become better known. By contemporary standards he produced a small number of operas (New Grove lists sixteen, of which one is apparently a pasticcio reconstituted from earlier works), and even his chamber vocal works are atypical, focusing on the duet, to the virtual exclusion of solo works. And so this instrumental florilegium (apparently following the Roger An 1816 lithography of Agostino Steffani from an unknown original. collection of Sonate da Camera of 1705) from four of the composer's operas is particularly welcome. The earliest, Niobe, regina di Tebe, was written for Munich in 1688; I trionfi del fato and Henrico Leone were written for Hanover in 1695 and 1698 respectively, and Amor vien dal destino for Düsseldorf in 1709. What will surprise the listener (it surprises me, at least) is the thoroughly French style of most of the music, whether the French ouvertures, or the suites of dances, all with French titles, which reinforces Germany as the land of the mixed style, taking from both Italy and France, before France itself began to borrow from Italy (a commerce that rarely traveled in the opposite direction). The playing of the Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca (and friends) is firstrate, with pep and sparkle. High remarks to the oboes of Andrea Mion and Marco Cera. This is my first encounter with this ensemble, and I came away impressed with their taste and adventurousness in repertoire. Warmly recommended.


flac, booklet


  1. Links to Pucini? I prefer Steffani

  2. Ooops... sorry corrected. Thanks for letting me know!



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