Antonio Florio, conductor
Of the two cantatas featuring featuring the character of La Pazzia (Madness), Barbara Strozzi's La pazzia venuta da Venezia ("L'astratto") was the stronger work, accompanied simply by continuo. Strozzi, one of the relatively few great female composers, was the superior melodic and dramatic craftsman. After a slightly rough start with some minor intonation problems, soprano Maria Grazia Schiavo gave a fine performance combining sections of agitated runs and others of arching legato lines. Before that "Venetian" Madness, Pietro Antonio Giramo, a composer from a generation before Strozzi, presented the Neapolitan Madness, in La pazzia venuta da Napoli. Soprano Maria Ercolano gave an edgy, grainy-voiced rendition that was strong in affective contrasts, with lead violinist Alessandro Ciccolini's capable solo part.
Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (July 14)
Concerto Italiano, Monteverdi's Orfeo (July 11)
Cappella della Pietà de' Turchini (July 10)
Fabio Vacchi, La Madre del Mostro (July 8)
Florio conducted only beginning with the Petrini piece, for the full body of strings (eight players). The complete ensemble, including recorder, played for the Caldara, with fine results. Particularly good was "Ah, se toccasse a me" in the Caldara, with its two competing theorbo parts. (Both theorbists also play for Concerto Italiano, and that group's conductor, Rinaldo Alessandrini, was seated a couple rows in front of me.) Florio brilliantly interpolated movements from a couple of Caldara's sonatas for strings (op. 2), which provided an attractive relief from the singing. A spicy Fandango, complete with castanets, served as encore to a pleasing concert.
Just as we came out of the Teatro dei Rozzi, a contingent from the Oca neighborhood of Siena paraded down the street with their Palio (from the July race). They proceeded to the Piazza del Campo and, of course, right to the street that leads into the Torre neighborhood, their great enemy, to offer a midnight serenade of insults. Later that night, while working on reviews, I watched a filmed conversation between Christian Schlingensief and Christian Thielemann, in German, with French subtitles, in Italy. This is the life.
The 64th Settimana Musicale Senese concludes tonight in Siena. Associated concerts continue throughout August, in Siena and nearby towns, in the 76th Estate Musicale Chigiana, including performances by violinist Giuliano Carmignola (July 21), harpsichordist Christophe Rousset (August 1), cellist Antonio Meneses (August 3), and pianist Maurizio Pollini (August 12).