SEON - Philips
1 LP - 6575 058 - (p) 1975
1 LP - RL 30417 - (p) 1981
1 CD - S2K 63181 - (c) 1997


Nicola PORPORA (1686-1768) Cantata VIII "Or che una nube ingrata" - for contralto and basso continuo
15' 59"

- Adagio e recitativo: "Or che una nube ingrata" 3' 07"

- Aria: "Senza il misero" (Lento) 6' 23"

- Recitativo: "M'intendi?"
2' 13"

- Aria: "Contemplar almen chi s'ama" 4' 22"
Antonio CALDARA (c.1670-1736) Cantata "Vicino a un rivoletto" - for contralto, violin, cello and basso continuo
22' 32"

- Recitativo: "Vicino a un rivoletto" 1' 24"

- Aria: "Zeffiretto amorosetto" (Adagio-Andante) (violino solo) 9' 27"

- Recitativo: "Ma, oh ciel!" 1' 03"

- Aria: "Aimč, sento il mio core" (Larghetto) (violoncello solo) 10' 44"
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Cantata "Mi palpita il cor" - for contralto, transverse flute, and basso continuo
13' 22"

- Recitativo: "Mi palpita il cor" 2' 04"

- Aria: "Ho tanti affanni in petto" 7' 01"

- Recitativo: "Clori, dite mi lagno" 1' 03"

- Aria: "Se un dě m'adora la mia crudele" (Allegro) 3' 22"

René Jacobs, countertenor
Sigiswald Kuijken, baroque violin (Maggini School, Brescia, mid-17th century)
Barthold Kuijken, transverse flute (Gerard Adrian Rottenburgh, Brussels, mid-18th century)
Anner Byslma, baroque violoncello (Matteo Goffriller, Venezia, 1695)

Gustav Leonhardt, harpsichord (David Rubio, Oxford, 1972 after Pascal Taskin 1723-93)

Luogo e data di registrazione
Doopsgezinde Kerk, Amsterdam (Holland) - Novembre 1974

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Recording Supervisor
Wolf Erichson

Recording Engineer

Dieter Thomsen

Prima Edizione LP
Seon (Philips) | 6575 058 | 1 LP - durata 52' 35" | (p) 1975 | ANA

Seon (RCA Red Seal) | RL 30417 | 1 LP - durata 52' 35" | (p) 1981 | ANA

Edizione CD
Sony | SBK 63181 | 1 CD - durata 52' 35" | (c) 1997 | ADD

Original Cover

Jan Weenix (1642-1719), Galante Gesellschaft im Freien (c.1667) Leipzig, Museum der Bildenden Künste.


The Italian solo secular cantata came into being around 1600 with the birth of monody, the new accompanied solo song. After 1650 it was cultivated primarily by the Neapolitan school headed by Alessandro Scarlatti. Scarlatti wrote about 600 solo cantatas, in which he experimented with every possible type of form and means of expression, including extremely sophisticated forms of vocal ornamentation. During the first half of the 18th century the tradition was carried on by both Italian and by Italian-influenced German composers. The solo cantata was thought of at this time not only as a musical form but also as a poetic one. As a rule the first aria, often a slow one, served to present a description of the situation, for instance in the form of a lover’s lament; the second aria, a quick one, aimed at resolving the conflict. The arias were nearly always in ‘da capo’ form and preceded by secco recitatives or ariosos. This sequence of recitative and aria is taken straight from Neapolitan opera seria, in fact the only difference between the opera and the cantata was that the latter was performed without scenery or action and in a “chamber”, i. e. performed privately in the homes of the middle and upper classes, at “academies” (musical societies) or in the courts of princes.
The Neo-Neapolitan Nicola Porpora (1686-1768) was equally successful as a composer of operas and of cantatas. In 1733 the rival faction in Handel’s London called in his services, admiring in his works their technical perfection, their nobility of expression, melodic elegance and emotional sensitivity. In the long run Porpora fared no better in London, however, than Handel had done with his operas. “Or che una nube ingrata” is one of 12 solo cantatas published in London in 1735. The cantata follows the customary pattern in its choise of text and formal scheme. In the introductory arioso the mood of deep despair is masterfully depicted, the emotional intensity finally reaching a climax in the following G minor aria. The second aria is relaxed and cheerful. Vocal ornamentation is used only sparsely throughout. One noticeable feature of this cantata is the carefully and smootly worked bass part - possibly inspired by Handel - which presents a beautifully balanced counterpoint to the vocal line.
The text of the cantata "Vicino a un rivoletto" by the highly gifted Italian composer antonio caldara (c.1670-1736) leads to no dinal dénouement. The text relates how Prince Coriolan, pining for his Cleopatra, urgently beseeches the gentle zephyr to carry a message of love to her. But neither the zephyr nor the rest of Nature heeds his misery. Caldara sets the text with great contrapuntal skill. Being employed as vice-imperial court capellmeister in Vienna under  J. J. Fux, however, he naturally orientates himself according to traditional northern styles. All three parts - that of the voice, of the continuo bass and of the solo violin/solo violoncello - are woven into a polyphonic whole, particularly the two solo parts, which frequently play in duet, spinning the melody between them, the one taking over from the other. The virtuoso violin part introduces additional touches of sound-painting, e. g. the portrayal of the wind in the first aria, whereas the cello heightens the atmosphere of melancholy and mourning in the final section. Although the piece uses little in the way of coloratura ornamentation, it is vocally very demanding, particularly in the Larghetto, a moving lament of the forsaken lover. From the point of view of form the composer takes several liberties. He adopts the obligatory ‘da capo’ form for his first aria, but introduces a gradual building~up process: after an initial “adagio” bar, in Which the violin plays in almost extemporizing manner, the aria sets off “andante”, later changing to a sprightly 3/8-time “allegro”.
George Frederic Handel (1685-1759) became acquainted with the solo cantata form at first hand while on his visit to Italy in 1707. His meeting with Alessandro Scarlatti, at the “Arcadia Academy
of the Roman Cardinal Ottobuoni, proved to have a lasting effect on the young composer. Without intensive study of the Italians’ art of writing melody and of dramatically constructing short scenes Handel would probably never have become the great opera and oratorio composer that he later was. Inspired by Scarlatti Handel immediately set to work and produced 72 solo cantatas of his own, among them “Mi palpita il cor”. The theme is again one of passion, love, despair and anguish. The opening recitative is already charged with dramatic fire: after only nine bars of arioso, at “agitata č l’alma mia”, Handel inserts an aria-like section with brilliant colorature before closing with a simple secco recitative. The following siciliano aria in E minor with its gently rocking rhythm and flute accompaniment creates a lyrical point of rest. In smooth cantabile style, with much imitative work, voice and flute complement each other in duet. In the connecting secco recitative tension mounts again. The dramatic climax is then reached in the final coloratura Allegro aria. An extremely effective work full of rapid changes of mood, this cantata is evidence that Handel at the age of twenty-two was already a music-dramatist par excellence.
Lothar Hoffmann-Erbrecht
English translation by Avril Watts