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Composer birthday: Alessandro Scarlatti, born May 2

Composer birthday: Alessandro Scarlatti, born May 2 featured image

Alessandro Scarlatti made his name as a composer of opera (115), and chamber cantatas (over 600!), and is considered the founder of the Neopolitan school of opera. His music links the early Baroque Italian vocal styles of the 1600’s with centres in Florence, Venice, and Rome, and the classical school of the 1700’s. He is also the father of Domenico Scarlatti, who wrote many keyboard sonatas (gems, really), and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti, who wrote cantatas and keyboard toccatas.

A. Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater (a term for the medieval Latin hymn on the suffering of the Virgin Mary at the Crucifixion) is a four-section work and is varied in form, going from semi-sung and semi-spoken passages to more developed opera arias, and has a great fugue (voices singing the same melody in different pitches, layering over itself). This work was composed for the Order of Cavalieri della Virgine dei Dolori in Naples, who honoured the Virgin Mary every year by dedicating a Stabat Mater during lent. The Order was not wealthy, which may explain the smaller-than-usual ensemble.

A. Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater is performed here by soprano Gemma Bertagnolli, mezzo Sara Mingardo, and the Concerto Italiano Rinaldo Alessandrini. It’s lovely.

Pietro Alessandro Gaspare Scarlatti was born May 2, 1660 in Palermo, Italy and died October 22, 1725, in Naples.

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