Quanto è dolce quell’ardore, cantata a voce sola di soprano con oboe solo [e basso continuo]
(Rev.Antonio Frigé)DVPF 20324 20 Pages Baroque
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(b Naples, 16 Jan 1672; d Naples, 22 Sept 1737). Italian composer. He entered the Conservatorio di S Maria della Pietà dei Turchini in 1688 as a student of organ, where he studied with Provenzale and Ursino; after six years he was employed as an organist. At the beginning of the 18th century he entered the service of the viceroy and in 1704 became the principal organist of the royal chapel. He was appointed maestro di cappella there in 1708 but by December of that year the post was returned to Alessandro Scarlatti and Mancini became his deputy (in 1718 he obtained a guarantee that he would succeed Scarlatti). In 1720 he became Director of the Conservatorio di S Maria di Loreto, and so played an important part in the training of a new generation of composers. Mancini succeeded Scarlatti in 1725, remaining in the post until his death. In 1735, however, he suffered a stroke and remained semi-paralysed until his death two years later.
As far as is known, Mancini’s first composition was the pastoral opera Il nodo sciolto e ligato dall’affetto, written for Rome. From 1702 onwards Mancini worked almost continuously at composing and arranging operas. He was most productive when he was Scarlatti’s deputy; his creative output slowed down following his appointments as Director of S Maria di Loreto and then as maestro of the royal chapel. While Mancini composed serenades, pieces for special occasions and cantatas throughout his life, his oratorios are concentrated in the period 1698–1708, with several later exceptions, including his last oratorio, Il zelo animato, which appears to have been intended as an exercise for his pupils at S Maria di Loreto.
Mancini’s contribution to sacred music was considerable, and the wide distribution of his music in libraries throughout Europe is a reflection of its popularity. Instrumental music was not of primary concern to Mancini, and that which remains appears to have been intended for teaching purposes (for example the two toccatas for harpsichord). The peculiarity of his instrumental writing can be seen in his sonatas, for example the rich harmonies accompanying the melodies and the contrapuntalism of the second movements, which are often almost proper fugues (see Giani).
While Mancini did not travel far from Naples, except for the occasional trip to Rome, stylistically his music fits into the transition between Scarlatti’s generation and the era of the spread of Neapolitan opera across Europe. His operas, which display a preference for the pathetic style (but he was no stranger to the comic), make simultaneous use of archaic features, such as a thick contrapuntal texture, swift rate of harmonic change and fast-moving bass line, as well as more modern features, such as the precise delimitation and greater extension of the sections of his arias and the use of the harmonic pedal. Mancini’s instrumentation is varied and colourful; the many directions for the bass part, which often indicate detailed orchestration and which may vary within a single aria, are also of importance. He was a skilful writer of melodies, able to achieve a perfect balance between words and intonation, even in recitatives, and able to shape the vocal line effectively as well as simply.