Stradella: dramatic life, dramatic music
By all accounts, Alessandro Stradella led a colourful, dissolute life. He was not averse to fraud or theft, nor could he resist the charms of the wives and fiancées of his many benefactors. And so he was often on the run, culminating in a failed assassination attempt and, in 1682, his murder.
We have mused before on the ways in which composers’ characters and life events influence their compositions, or not. In the case of Stradella it seems that his music is as impetuous, as willing to defy the rules, as the man himself.
I watched a concert yesterday on Idagio which included Cantata per il Santissimo Natale. A cantata for Christmas Eve… and Lucifer bursts on to the stage before the opening sinfonia is even finished!
Perhaps the best known of Stradella’s works is San Giovanni Battista, also full of drama, such splendid, chromatic word-setting, and a surprising ending “tell me why?” I’ve long loved this recording (but this evening will explore the newer recordings):
Stradella is sometimes described as the “least known great composer”. What do you think: is he little known? Is he a great composer? Is the drama of his life reflected in his music?
Here’s a Gramophone article on San Giovanni Battista, which might tempt anyone not familiar with the oratorio to give it a try 😊