This disc ties in with a concert given at Versailles o June 18th this year. Of the basis for the music chosen, the websitee gives this:
One of the most impressive public festivals in baroque Rome was held in honour of Louis XIV in 1687. To celebrate the King's recovery after the successful operation on his anal fistula, and to establish his prestige as the undisputed protector of the Catholic Church, Cardinal d'Estrées, the French ambassador to the Holy See, organised a grandiose open-air celebration in one of Rome's most famous urban theatres: the Pincio Hill, between the Trinità dei Monti and the Spanish Steps.
On these famous stairs, Corelli's prestigious orchestra in large formation played the Sinfonie per il Re Cristianissimo Lodovico il Grande with trumpets and timpani, accompanied by fireworks staged at the top of the hill. The virtuoso violinist Emmanuel Resche, passionate about Italian baroque music, has reconstructed this extraordinary musical feast, replacing the Cantata in Honour of the King of France composed by Alessandro Melani. Here is a revival of Roman baroque splendour that marked the French Court, but also Handel who must have remembered it for his Music of the Royal Fireworks...
You can get a feel for this wonderful disc via this video:
The disc takes, for the basis of the Sinfonia grande con le trombe, two Concerto grossi; when I hear these performances, I am remnded of that remarkable, very overt0the-top recording Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks that appeared on LP. Not in iny way as authentic as Emmanuel Resche-Caserta's musicians (Ensemble EXIT & Hemiolia), there remains something of the same extravagance (interestingly enough, the concert for Louis XIV on and around teh Spanish Steps in Rome concluded with a fireworks display):
The idea of this disc is to reconstitute the concert for Louis XIV. This video (in French) explains but also includes shots of conteporary drawings that give an idea of how the music was delivered - orchestral layout and so forth, including size (more than 50 musicians):
The idea of assembling these pieces via disparate movements into unified wholes actually works really well. Listen to the original here of the Sonata soavissima here:
The Versailles performance is glorious; it's as if the music blossoms as one listens, the phrasing tender, little ornaments perfectly judged. It moves straigh into the drama of the first movement of the Sinfonia mesta per i violini, which takes the Overture from Corelli's little-known oratorio Santa Beatrice d'Este:
Resche-Caserta's performance of this is incredibly strong and emotive in its slow opening section, and joyous in the ensuing Allegro.
A brief Sonata con l'eco (a some superb violin solos from Patrizio Germone) leads to the vocal part of the disc: the Cantata per la serra con sinfonie by Alessandro Melani (1639-1703), one of a group of Italian commposers who were influential in France (Marazolli was another, as was the singer Leonora Baroni). Simlarly, Emmanuelle de Negri is the perfect choice of soloist; Melani's music is gracious. This is probably the piece sung at the original festival, and appears here in a reconsttruction, a simply astonishing work of speculative yet highly informed musicology that works supermely well on a musical level (teh same could be said of the whole project, of course).Melani could not ask for better proponents of his music.. Negri's virtuosity is remarkable
An example of Melani's music is defnitely called for; here's his Requiem on the cpo label:
The Versailles disc ends with a robust Sinfonia maestosa, with trumpets and timpani parts realised by Marie-Ange Petit (the trumpets here perform on copies of instruments by Wolf Birckholtz (1650, the originals are in the Nuremberg museum).
A superb idea, fully in the exploratory vein that characterises the Chateau de Versailles Spéctacles label,Corelli / Melani Trionfo Romano