Agostino Steffani (1654-1728)

Agostino Steffani had a very remarkable life – starting as an exceptionally gifted chorister; securing musical appointments of distinction; composing notable sacred works, many highly successful operas, esteemed chamber music; becoming in demand as a diplomat, with honours bestowed on him by the pope and the political powers.

Ste 1

Spezza, Amor, l'arco

No 1 of 6 scherzi

Cedric Lee

for canto solo (soprano, d'-a''), oboe (piffero) bassoon (fagotto) and basso continuo

Price: £ 9.50

Spezza, Amor, l’arco, is the first in the set of 6 Scherzi. Its theme is the tortured sufferings of the lover who cannot bring himself to declare his love to his idol.

The structure of the piece resembles that of a cantata; arias for voice with obbligato instruments alternate with recitatives.  However, in this work the arias have distinctive characteristics: the first has a da capo form, but its B section is in marked contrast rhythmically and in mood, to the first section, changing the C signature for 3/2.  The second aria, Zephiretti placidetti, sets two strophes;  the first with oboe, the second with bassoon as obbligato. Both parts have the curious time signature of C 3/2, and both contain a “cadenza” passage over a pedal bass. The third aria, Fortuna crudele, is in three sections in 3/2 time, each repeated. All three are distinguished by the challenging bassoon accompaniment in quaver passages.

Cover image: download
Sample page: download
Ste 5

Lagrime dolorose

No 5 of 6 Scherzi

Cedric Lee

for bass solo (G-e'), 2 recorders (flauti) and continuo

Price: £ 7.90

The subject of Lagrime dolorose is as the title suggests, mourning: the lover is lamenting, but the cause of his grief is not his love being spurned, but, as is revealed in the second recitative, that his adored Phyllis is in fact dead.  After roundly cursing his fate, Amyntas, being a hard-headed young man, resolves to shed his memories and his longing, because ‘to have the eyes always brimming with tears, torments the living, but does not restore the dead to life’!

Cover image: download
Sample page: download