Antonio Florio has discovered and prepared a performing edition – for Glossa’s new Passio release – of the 1685 St John Passion setting by the Neapolitan composer Gaetano Veneziano, which features countertenor Raffaele Pe in the technically demanding role of the Evangelist.
Until recently, Italian Passiontide settings from the Baroque era have been thought to amount to just the one, that by Alessandro Scarlatti, but the score by Veneziano – who was a contemporary of Scarlatti, a maestro in the royal chapel as well as a favoured pupil of Francesco Provenzale – has been located in the Archivio dell’Oratorio dei Girolamini in Naples, and displays a surprising blending of modernity and an older style in its instrumental accompaniment (here provided by Florio’s Cappella Neapolitana). Moreover, it provides an extrovert and atmospheric response to the Gospel text for the roles of Christ (taken by tenor Luca Cervoni) and Pilate (the bass Marco Bussi) as well as for the interventions of the crowd (sung here by the Ghislieri Choir).
Having already done much to revive the name of Gaetano Veneziano, through his recording of the later oratorio, La Santissima Trinità, as well as through discs with other sacred music, Antonio Florio has now created a further fascinating release of Baroque Italian music from Naples, and one which benefits from a typically absorbing booklet essay from Dinko Fabris. (GLOSSA)