Released this week on the ABC Classics label, Cello Napoletano features the sparkling musical treasures of old-time Naples, as the new Australian baroque orchestra Van Diemen’s Band presents its debut album, connecting the pristine wilderness and Antarctic gateway of present-day Tasmania with one of eighteenth-century Europe’s greatest sea ports.
Musicians from leading early music orchestras throughout the world gathered in Hobart for these sessions, reflecting the sea-faring cosmopolitanism of Hobart and Naples. Melbourne-born violinist Julia Fredersdorff, Artistic Director of Van Diemen’s Band, formed the ensemble in 2016 when she returned to Australia after many years performing and studying in Europe. Lake Como-based cellist, Catherine Jones, is one of the most in-demand baroque cellists on the international stage. The orchestra itself is hand-picked from the most promising players of the new generation as well as the cream of established musicians.
Recorded in the beautiful acoustics of Government House in Hobart, Cello Napoletano unveils a rich and much-neglected artistic culture, where music flourished in churches, courts and academies. At the centre of the album stands the music of Nicola Fiorenza, a composer and violinist with a famously eccentric and hot-blooded temperament, who played for many years in the Orchestra of the Neapolitan Royal Chapel. His Cello Concertos, four of which are presented here, are by turns urgently virtuosic, stunningly rhapsodic, and almost completely unrepresented in recordings – until now.
Alongside music by Fiorenza, the album features works by other Neapolitan luminaries: a Sinfonia by Alessandro Scarlatti (another by his son, Domenico, is available as a digital bonus), and a Concerto Grosso by Francesco Geminiani, all of which show the irresistible influence of the art form that was popular in Naples at the time – opera.
NICOLA FIORENZA (1700–1764): 1–4. Cello Concerto in F major/ 9–12. Cello Concerto in B-flat major/ 16–19. Cello Concerto in D major (with violetta)/ 20–23. Trio Sonata in B minor/ 24–27. Cello Concerto in D major
ALESSANDRO SCARLATTI (1660–1725):5–8. Sinfonia to ‘Clori, Dorino e Amore’
FRANCESCO GEMINIANI (1687–1762):13–15. Concerto grosso in E minor, Op. 3 No. 3
DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE BONUS TRACKS
DOMENICO SCARLATTI (1685–1757): 28–30. Sinfonia No. 3 in G major
Recorded in Government House, Hobart, 9–13 March 2017
| 1CD | Digital Album | ABC 481 6359
Recording Cello Napoletano in the Ballroom of Government House, Hobart, March 2017