Scarlatti’s “La Gloria di Primavera”
To Be Released April 8 by
Philharmonia Baroque Productions
TO REQUEST A PRESS CD FOR REVIEW
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San Francisco, CA – March 14, 2016 – The ninth disc from Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra’s recording label will feature Alessandro Scarlatti’s “La Gloria di Primavera.” Scheduled for release on April 8, the disc features the live recording of the U.S. Premiere of the newly discovered serenata performed at First Congregational Church in Berkeley in October 2015. Music Director Nicholas McGegan conducts the orchestra and an acclaimed cast of soloists including Diana Moore, Suzana Ograjenšek, Clint van der Linde, Nicholas Phan and Douglas Williams with the Philharmonia Chorale directed by Bruce Lamott. This recording is made possible by a generous gift from the Waverley Fund.
The live performances were lauded by local critics. Of the premiere performance, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Joshua Kosman thought “‘The Glory of Spring’ is a feast of vocal invention, supplemented by wondrous instrumental writing for a strikingly large orchestra” while the San Jose Mercury News said that Nicholas McGegan “conducted brilliantly…. and the Philharmonia players delivered each episode with clarity and precision”
To coincide with the release of the CD, McGegan will take PBO and the entire cast of the original performance of Scarlatti’s “The Glory of Spring” on tour in May 2016 with stops at Carnegie Hall in New York on May 6 and Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa CA on May 10. This tour also celebrates McGegan’s 30 years at the podium with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale can claim the first-ever recording of Alessandro Scarlatti’s “La Gloria di Primavera” to be released April 8, 2016, precisely 300 years after its first performances. This double CD contains a 64-page booklet with full libretto in Italian with English translation, program notes by Bruce Lamott, artist bios and a detail of PBO players and their instruments. The CD running time is 138 minutes and is the ninth title to be released under Philharmonia’s own label, Philharmonia Baroque Productions. Live recordings were engineered by David v.R. Bowles of Swineshead Productions who has produced all recordings for Philharmonia since 2001. The historic recording of Alessandro Scarlatti’s “La Gloria di Primavera” will be available for download along with standard CD and Blu-Ray editions on Amazon, iTunes, and other fine music retailers.
“La Gloria di Primavera”
Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Diana Moore, mezzo-soprano
Suzana Ograjenšek, soprano
Clint van der Linde, countertenor
Nicholas Phan, tenor
Douglas Williams, baritone
Members of the Philharmonia Chorale, Bruce Lamott, director
Part One. Receiving the joyful news of the newborn heir, each of the four seasons reflects on the significance of this noble birth to the Austrian (aka Holy Roman) Empire. Spring (Primavera), Summer (Estate), Autumn (Autunno), and Winter (Inverno) in turn sing a recitative and aria describing imperial symbols such as the eagle and the Danube, emblematic of what Spring describes as “we, the storied elect.” A second cycle of arias is introduced with recitatives on a poetic juxtaposition of “then and now” contrasting the horrors of the recently ended War of the Spanish Succession, personified by the Roman goddess of war Bellona, with the pleasures and serenity of the ensuing peace, historically known as the Peace of Utrecht. However, when Spring audaciously claims higher honors than the rest owing to the date of the royal birth, the other seasons take exception, and all agree to invoke Jove to be their judge.
Part Two. A solemn invocation greets the arrival of Jove, and Spring sums up for him the arguments of her rivals: of Summer for the child’s conception, Autumn for the fecundity of “the Imperial breast,” Winter for the growing strength in the womb, and Spring herself takes credit (again) for the child’s birth. Each season, in that order, then makes their claim by amplifying these themes with a recitative and aria, leaving Spring last up to win over the already biased Jove with a double play: an aria both evoking the song of a nightingale and sung in the seductive rhythm of a siciliana. The predictable outcome is accepted by the other seasons without protest. The remainder of the work consists of benedictions from each season on the newborn and his role in the Empire, a return to the textual themes of the opening scene: a continuation of the Hapsburg line, immortality, and protection from threats against the Empire (specifically Ottomans, Thracians, Asians, and Anatolian Turks). Jove gets the final word, claiming the infant as his spiritual son, and all proclaim the return of a beautiful Age of Gold (Ò bell’età d’oro).
ABOUT PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE ORCHESTRA
Among the most-recorded period-instrument orchestras in the United States and Europe, Philharmonia has made 35 highly praised recordings – including its Gramophone award-winning recording of Handel’s “Susanna” – for harmonia mundi, Reference Recordings and BMG. In 2011, the orchestra launched its own label, Philharmonia Baroque Productions, with an acclaimed recording of Berlioz’s “Les Nuits d’été” and Handel arias featuring mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. The second CD release, Haydn: Symphonies No. 104, “London,” No. 88, No. 101, “The Clock,” was nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for Best Orchestral Performance and featured in the 2011 New York Times Best Classical Recordings list. The ensemble then went on to release a recording of Vivaldi violin concertos including “The Four Seasons” featuring violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, a recording of Handel’s “Atalanta” featuring the Philharmonia Chorale, and a recording of Brahms’s Serenades, the latter also featured in the 2012 New York Times Best Classical Recordings list and described as “truly treasurable.” The most recent release – Haydn Symphonies No. 57, 67 and 68 – was roundly praised. The Los Angeles Times proclaimed, “Haydn and McGegan were made for each other.”
Philharmonia was named Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year in 2004. The San Francisco Chronicle writes, “This adventuresome band has carved out a niche as the nation’s liveliest purveyor of period performances. The uncommon brilliance of its instrumental playing infuses the historical-performance enterprise with a vitality and zest that are worlds removed from dull conformity to the dictates of scholarship.”
Nicholas McGegan – photo RJ Muna
Philharmonia Chorale – photo Suzanne Karp
Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Choral with guest artists – photo taken during Scarlatti’s The Glory of Spring performance at Herbst Theatre, San Francisco October 9, 2015. Photo Suzanne Karp
YouTube Video About “The Glory of Spring” with Nic McGegan October 2015