Reviewed on Thu 27 Nov, 2014
Notorious rake Alessandro Stradella (1639-82) was more than once forced to flee the ire of cuckolded husbands, but he met his match in Queen Cristina of Sweden, a Catholic convert in Rome who commissioned him to write a serenata on her own original idea about two lovers and a group of passers-by discussing “the power of the stars”. The resulting work is a bold and colourful semi-opera which exists in two different versions: Andrea De Carlo and his Ensemble Mare Nostrum perform the expanded Turin version for seven voices, two concertino ensembles and a larger concerto grosso – Stradella not only had two soprano soloists and an SSATB choir, but almost uniquely different sets of instrumentalists who could perform separately or in combination. A rich palette indeed. On this recording soloists Nora Tabbush and Claudia Di Carlo lead a mightily experienced vocal ensemble, while De Carlo’s large instrumental group are equally impressive.