Vivi felice, suonator cortese: 18th Century Italian Sonatas from Gaspari Music Collection, Bologna


  • Artist(s): Ensemble Gli Invaghiti, Fabio Furnari
  • Composer(s): Alessandro Scarlatti, Arcangelo Corelli, Conte Pirro Albergati Capacelli, Giacomo Cattaneo, Giovan Francesco Beccatelli, Giuseppe Antonio Vincenzo Aldrovandini, Pietro Giuseppe Gaetano Boni
  • EAN Code: 7.46160913773
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Ensemble
  • Period: Baroque
  • Publication year: 2022
SKU: C00545 Category:

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We owe it all to Padre Martini. Few figures in the musical world were as influential as this erudite Franciscan Friar who lived in Bologna in the eighteenth century. He was a gifted composer, an enormously learned man, a curious intellectual who was eager to discover hidden gems wherever they could be found, an excellent pedagogue, and a passionate collector. On countless occasions, today’s musicologists and musicians find themselves looking to Padre Martini’s heritage for help, and – after so many decades – help is usually found.
Martini was in correspondence with many of the greatest musicians of his time, and, whilst he hardly left his convent, few novelties in the musical world ever escaped his attention. He traveled with his mind and knowledge, and updates about new (and older) personalities, genres, styles and vogues always reached him.
At his death, an immense heritage of handwritten and printed music, of correspondence, but also of iconography (including at least 200 items of visual arts) was entrusted to the care of Martini’s former disciple and student Stanislao Mattei, who took care of its preservation.
At Mattei’s death, the collection constituted the original kernel of the Library of the new Liceo Musicale of Bologna, and the task of managing it was assigned to Gaetano Gaspari, who served as the Librarian of the Liceo from 1855 to 1881. Under Gaspari’s care, the Library was divided into three sections, which are still adopted: in the first of them are found theoretical and literary works, in the second are stored musical scores for musical practice, and in the third are opera librettos. Gaspari meticulously and painstakingly catalogued this immense patrimony, and his handwritten cards are a musicological treasure in their own right: the Librarian did not limit himself to list some elements about the bibliographical items, but frequently added his own comments which are of invaluable worth.
Today, what had been Martini’s Library, and later the Library of the Liceo Musicale, increased through continuous additions in the centuries, has become the Library of the “Museo Internazionale e biblioteca della musica” in Bologna, a true Mecca for music lovers and musicologists.
Even though this resource is extremely well-known by musicians and musicologists alike, much remains to be studied and discovered within it. This Da Vinci Classics album is one example of the wealth of “new old” music which can be found by exploring this patrimony.
This CD was born almost by chance. The Accademia degli Invaghiti had been invited to perform an all-Vivaldi concert in Bologna (in fact, the Library has several important Vivaldi sources along with a famous portrait of the Venetian composer). Then came COVID, which prevented the original project from taking place. When the possibility arose of resuming it, the Accademia opted for a revised design, based on composers from Bologna or who had ties with the city, and whose works could be found in the Fondo Gaspari (the original kernel of the Biblioteca della Musica). The repertoire recorded here includes works by two of the greatest masters of the Italian baroque (Alessandro Scarlatti and Arcangelo Corelli), along with lesser-known composers, some of whom would actually deserve a much greater recognition, as their magnificent music fully demonstrates.
The album’s title is curious and deserves a few words of explanation. It is taken from the Address to the Reader found in the published part (first violin) of the Trattenimenti armonici da camera composed by Giacomo Cattaneo di Lodi and dedicated to Marquis Alessandro Botta Adorno. The Address is worth citing in full:
“COURTEOUS PLAYER, I would not like that, in seeing these notes of music by myself, you would frown on them so soon, and accuse me of being ambitious or daring. My study was not done out of love for glory, but as an entertainment for the intellect. By publishing these papers I wrote, I had no pretension to list my own name among the illustrious names of the celebrated masters who wrote in this genre. I only wished to manifest my obedience to the authoritative mastery of those who ordered me to do so. Now that you are made certain of this truth, there is little left to do. Let my weakness tune itself consonantly with your loving compassion; and live happy”.
Whilst the self-deprecatory style is by no means unusual in similar dedications, the overall tone is so full of bonhomie and sympathy that one immediately gets the idea of the composer’s kindness and affability.
Little is known about Giacomo Cattaneo; in the collection’s titlepage he is described as “Master of psaltery and cello” in the “Collegio dei Nobili” in Brescia, an educational establishment managed by the Jesuits. We do not even know the exact dates of his life; in all likelihood, he was a Jesuit in turn. His music is as amiable as his words, and transmits a sense of pleasant freshness of inspiration.
Pietro Giuseppe Gaetano Boni was also a churchman; at least, he is described as Abbot on the titlepage of some of his published works, but the details of his ordination are unknown. He was born probably in Bologna in the second half of the seventeenth century. In 1711 he obtained a recommendation for Corelli, and this allowed him to be welcomed in Rome. Corelli evidently influenced the young musician’s style during the several years Boni spent in Rome (at least until 1720). In this city, Boni issued the first three volumes of his instrumental Sonatas, which are particularly interesting for the concertante role of the cello. Probably following their publication, Boni was accepted as a member of the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna. Other Sonata collections followed in the subsequent years, and their dissemination in various aristocratic households bears witness to their success. Boni wrote also several oratorios, and may have returned to Bologna in the final years of his life; he probably died around 1750 in Bologna. His music is really outstanding; the oblivion which currently surrounds his figure and works is utterly undeserved, and his figure needs to be reappraised.
By way of contrast, his mentor Corelli needs no presentation: one of the greatest composers of all times, he established the foundations of violin technique and explored the full potential of his instrument in chamber ensembles, thus contributing to the creation of the Baroque Sonata.
To the south of Rome is Naples, the city where the Palermo-born composer Alessandro Scarlatti spent most of his life (1660-1725). In turn, Scarlatti is in no need of introduction, and represents one of the highpoints of Italian music, particularly as concerns his output of operas and sacred music. His genius for melodies is evident also in his instrumental music, as appears clearly in the “Sonata I” recorded here.
Geographically situated halfway between Bologna and Rome, Florence was the city where Giovan Francesco Beccatelli lived and worked. He was born there on Nov. 8th, 1679 and received his musical education in his city. In 1715 he was appointed Chapel Master and organist in the Cathedral Church of Prato, near Florence, which would become his adoptive city until his death in 1734. He married and had a son who became a professional musician in turn. Beccatelli’s compositional output is not immense; in his time, he was better known for his numerous dissertations, articles and disquisitions about complex problems of musical theory, in particular as concerns the use of alterations. The manuscripts of many such articles are collected in a single volume preserved in the Fondo Gaspari, where other handwritten sources of his compositions are found. Gaspari considered Beccatelli’s fugato works for the harpsichord as “very good in their genre and very valuable”, thus bearing witness to the esteem in which Beccatelli was held.
The recommendation which helped Boni to gain Corelli’s favours had been signed by the famous Bolognese musician G. A. Perti, who was a close friend of Padre Martini and who also taught Giuseppe Antonio Vincenzo Aldrovandini. Aldrovandini was born in Bologna on June 8th, 1671; at 24 he was admitted to the Accademia Filarmonica, of which he was nominated a “prince” in 1702. In the same year he was also appointed an honorary Chapel Master in the orchestra of the Duke of Mantua: these titles acknowledge the unanimous recognition of his talent and skill. In spite of so many successes, Aldrovandini did not live a “happy life”, as Cattaneo would have said. He suffered from alcoholism and died tragically at the young age of 35. Martini prized his music highly, stating that “he displayed a singular naturalness in his works, along with artifice”. Once more, Martini was not mistaken: as this recording demonstrates, Aldrovandini can rightfully be listed among the genius composers of the Italian Baroque. Aldrovandini’s compositional output is constituted mainly by operas: interestingly, they continued to be represented decades after his death (until 1746), at a time when opera was a very ephemeral genre.
Perti and Corelli were also among the mentors of another composer represented in this album. Pirro Capacelli Albergati was born in Bologna on September 20th, 1663, and died there on June 22nd, 1735. Different from the other musicians whose works are recorded here, Capacelli Albergati was a nobleman; therefore, his musical activities were not bound to professional duties, and were undertaken out of mere pleasure. This, however, did not mean that his music was amateurish. Indeed, he was widely appreciated by his contemporaries, particularly as a proficient violinist. In this capacity, he may even have served as a Chapel Master in Puiano, near Urbino, thus earning the title of professional musician on the field. He also had important duties in the civil administration of his city, where he belonged in the Council of the Elders for no less than 24 times and had other important roles. His music is full of unusual harmonies; probably due to its originality, it was not understood by many of his contemporaries, and this may explain why such an important figure was not admitted to the Accademia Filarmonica. His daring music has been chosen as the closing of this album, since his piece leaves the music “open”, almost suspended. It is almost a question mark inviting further enquiries, both in the musicological field where much remains to be discovered, but also as concerns the curiosity and interest of the listeners of this album. To them, as Cattaneo would have put it, this music wishes: “live happy”!

Chiara Bertoglio © 2021


Ensemble Gli Invaghiti
Established in 2008 by will and under the direction of Fabio Furnari, together with the association bearing the same name, the vocal and instrumental Ensemble Gli Invaghiti promotes the spread of Early Music and historical reconstructions that involve the repertoires of the immense musical heritage of Europe and the Mediterranean Area. More than 40 programs and 200 concerts performed in Italy and abroad, under the direction of famous and deep connoisseurs of the various repertoires offered, with a view of great dynamism and philological approach. This is the choice that motivates Gli Invaghiti to rediscover ancient and unique pages, combining them with historical and historical-artistic reconstructions, to recover important episodes of history. The sound, the word and the context are brought to light, in order to give the possibility, to those who benefit from it, to perceive, through the music, the intimate dialogue in which all the elements that make up the Art dialogue with one another. The same name of Gli Invaghiti refers to the concept of philanthropic centre where man produces and emanates culture as it was originally conceived and forged in the Renaissance Mantua of the Gonzaga dukes. Byzantium, the Greek and Latin world, Italic and Flemish music, the Renaissance and the Baroque acquire a new listening perspective through the vision proposed by Gli Invaghiti. A line-up that can range from the small vocal and instrumental ensemble up to the maximum, consisting of soloists, chorus and baroque orchestra, able to take on even the most powerful pages in the history of music. A serious scientific and musical approachth the taste and knowledge of the humble workshop craftsman who, every day, works and perceives, through his skin and senvity, the energy of the material he is working.

Fabio Furnari: Tenor who specializes in early music performance practice under the guidance of Alan Curtis and Pedro Memelsdorff, studying in parallel classical guitar with Elena Casoli, singing with Ulrike Wurdack and Marco Farinella and Classics with an archaeological address at the University of Turin. He has participated in the most renowned World Concert Festivals. He has collaborated with Claudio Abbado, Jordi Savall, Sigiswald Kuijken and Cecilia Bartoli and made over 160 recordings with the most important record labels, obtaining the best acknowledgments of international critics. He was invited for the celebrations of Matera as "European Capital of Culture" for the 2019 Edition. For several years engaged in the enhancement and study of Piedmont history, from the Roman Age to the Baroque Era, he conducts specific studies on Roman and Byzantine history and on Mesopotamian archeology. He is founder of the Cultural Association "Gli Invaghiti", which, since 2008, deals with the recovery of the ancient artistic and musical heritage of Piedmont. He collaborates with the Superintendence for Architectural Heritage of Piedmont since 2009 and with the Piedmont Museum Complex since 2017. In addition to music production and historical-archaeological research, he also participated in the Venice Biennale (2008) as a leading actor, together with Toni Servillo, in the film "Un canto lontano" directed by Alberto Momo and the collaboration with the “Banda Osiris”.


Alessandro Scarlatti: (b Palermo, 2 May 1660; d Naples, 22 Oct 1725). Composer, generally considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of 18th-century opera.

Arcangelo Corelli (b Fusignano, 17 Feb 1653; d Rome, 8 Jan 1713). Italian composer and violinist. Despite the modest size of his output, comprising six collections of instrumental music and a handful of other authentic works, and its virtual restriction to three genres – solo sonata, trio sonata and concerto – Corelli exercised an unparalleled influence during his lifetime and for a long time afterwards. This influence, which affected form, style and instrumental technique in equal measure, was most closely felt in Italy, and in particular in Rome, where he settled in early manhood, but soon spread beyond local and national confines to become a European phenomenon. As a violinist, teacher of the violin and director of instrumental ensembles Corelli imposed standards of discipline that were unusually strict for their period and helped to lay the groundwork for further progress along the same lines during the 18th century. To Corelli belong equally the distinctions of being the first composer to derive his fame exclusively from instrumental composition, the first to owe his reputation in large part to the activity of music publishers, and the first to produce ‘classic’ instrumental works which were admired and studied long after their idiom became outmoded.

Pirro Albergati (Capacelli)
(b Bologna, 20 Sept 1663; d Bologna, 22 June 1735). Italian composer. Born of noble parents, Marcantonio Albergati Capacelli and Vittoria Carpegna, he soon took a lively part in Bolognese musical life, and was a friend (and perhaps pupil) of G.A. Perti and Corelli. The dedication of Albergati's op.5 to Leopold I led Eitner to assume that he was in that emperor's service, but this thesis is unsupported. Although Albergati accepted a post as maestro di cappella in Puiano in 1728, his chief musical activity besides composition was that of enlightened dilettante and patron of other composers. G.M. Bononcini and Giuseppe Jacchini both dedicated works to him. The Albergati palace in Bologna, according to the chronicles, was the scene of many festive serenatas, academies and cantatas. Between 1682 and 1731 Albergati was elected 24 times to the governing body of Bologna, the Anziani. From 1701 to 1708 he served six times as gonfalonier of justice. In 1721, at the age of 58, he married a woman of 21, Elisabetta della Porta of Gubbio; she died only six years later.

Giovanni Francesco Beccatelli
(b Florence, 8 Nov 1679; d ?Prato, 1734). Italian theorist and composer. Beccatelli's early musical studies were under Virgilio Cionchi and G.M. Casini in Florence. By order of Grand Duke Cosimo III, he was made maestro di cappella and organist of Prato Cathedral in 1704 where he remained until his death. Although he composed a quantity of church music, Beccatelli was best known as a speculative writer on music theory and its history. As one of the Florentine neo-Pythagoreans of the late Baroque (cf Nigetti and Casini), Beccatelli treated problems of temperament and relied heavily on mathematical reasoning. Of particular interest is his contention that the 4th is a consonance (see Lustig). His supporting arguments include the construction of an hypothetical modo obbliquo in which all the intervals of the normal modo retto are reckoned from the highest rather than the lowest sounding note. The result is a recognition of triadic inversions as unstable analogues to the stable root position triads. In their novel accommodation of current practice to older theory, Beccatelli's theories reveal the problems of a transitional period.

Giuseppe [Gioseffo] Antonio Vincenzo [Giuseppe Maria]
Aldrovandini [Aldovrandini, Aldrovandin, Aldrovandon, Altrobrandino]
(b Bologna, 8 June 1671; d Bologna, 9 Feb 1707). Italian composer. He studied composition and counterpoint with Perti, probably while the latter was maestro di cappella of S Pietro, Bologna. In 1695, after at least two of his oratorios had been performed in the city's churches, he became a member of the Accademia Filarmonica, and in 1701 was elected its principe. His name appears in librettos from 1702 as honorary composer to the Duke of Mantua and maestro di cappella of the Accademia dello Spirito Santo, Ferrara. Contemporary accounts indicate that he was a man of intemperate habits, which perhaps accounted for his lack of professional preferment and for his habitual poverty despite the recognition of his talent. He drowned in the canal port in Bologna as he was preparing to leave for Venice.

Pietro Giuseppe Gaetano Boni (fl 1st half of the 18th century). Italian composer. He has sometimes been thought to be the composer of the opera Il figlio delle selve, performed at Modena in 1700, but according to Schmidl this results from a confusion of his name with that of Cosimo Bani. He may have studied in Bologna, since he was recommended from there to Corelli in Rome in 1711 (only Corelli’s reply to the letter of recommendation is extant). It has been assumed that he remained in Rome for some time, since his 12 Sonate per camera a violoncello e cembalo op.1 were published there in 1717. That year, perhaps as a result of this publication, he was made a member of the Accademia Filarmonica, Bologna. On the title-page of his Divertimenti per camera a violino, violone, cimbalo, flauto e mandola op.2 (Rome, n.d.) he is described as a priest. In 1719 he had a Cantata per la notte di Natale performed in Perugia; this may be the same piece as the Cantata per il SS natale di Nostro Signore Giesu Christo, for two voices and instruments, in manuscript at Manchester (GB-Mp). His opera Tito Manlio (text by Matteo Noris) was performed in Rome on 8 January 1720 and his oratorio S Rosalia at Bologna in 1726. In the libretto of this work he is referred to as abate. His 12 Sonate a violino e violone e cembalo op.3 were published in Rome in 1741. The set of manuscript sonatas (I-Bc) thought by Gaspari to be for keyboard has been shown by Newman to be for violin and continuo.