The Galant Masters Project is intended to bring lost works of Galant-style liturgical music to light. Manuscripts for this project are selected by an advisory board of specialists in this period with a focus on works that have not been published previously. Scores are prepared as critical performing editions and incorporate editorial revisions in a clean and easily readable manner while retaining maximum fidelity to the manuscript sources. Recordings are completed
by The Chicago Galant Consort, an ensemble of early music specialists created specifically for this project.
Born on the Venetian harbor island of Burano, Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785) was among the most important composers of the eighteenth century opera seria and a central figure in the development of the dramma giocoso. Early in his career, Galuppi held a position teaching and composing at the Ospedale dei Medicanti in Venice. He spent approximately eighteen months in London between October 1741 and May 1743, supervising the production of at least eleven of his operas. Upon his return to Venice, Galuppi played a pivotal role in adapting the newly-arrived Neopolitan comic opera style to northern Italian tastes, thus assuring its success in Venice. He was elected vicemaestro at the Basilica of San Marco in 1748, and for the next three years his dual roles at the Medicanti and the Basilica resulted in a huge output of liturgical music, most of it, tragically, lost today.
Galuppi’s opera-related engagements forced him to resign his post at the Medicanti in 1751, though he remained active at San Marco, and in April of 1762 he was unanimously appointed maestro di coro there. Later that year he would also be appointed maestro di coro at the Ospedale degli Incurabili. With the exception of a three-year period (1765 to 1768) composing operas for the court of Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg, Galuppi would continue to hold the position at San Marco until shortly before his death.
Domine ad adjuvandum me (1778) and Laudate pueri (1751), were both presumably written for use at San Marco. The scores used for this recording are new editions based upon a set of five manuscripts preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris (D4263), which are bound together in a single volume. The unidentified copyist is the same for four of the five. Domine ad adjuvandum me and Laudate pueri are the first and fourth manuscripts respectively in this set. Also included in this set are Confitebor (1771), Dixit Dominus (1778), and In Conveviendo Dominus (1774) settings. The common binding in the Bibliothèque National set most certainly came about for convenience after the fact and does not reflect any linking of the pieces by either the composer or the copyist. The Domine ad adjuvandum me and Laudate pueri do couple together well though as they are both written for soprano and mezzo soloists with choir and use identical instrumentation of oboes, corni, strings, and continuo.
A trendsetting composer in the mid-eighteenth century, Niccolò Jommelli’s (1714-1774) style is marked by an eclecticism that one might expect from a composer so well-traveled. He received his training at the conservatories of Sant’Onofrio and Pietà dei Turchini in Naples where he studied under such masters as Prota, Feo, and Fago. Later, he worked under Padre Martini’s tutelage in Bologna. Jommelli’s first successes in Neapolitan opera came between 1737 and 1740, and shortly thereafter he received his first permanent position as musical director of the Ospedale degli Incurabili in Venice. Over the thirty years that followed he spent extended periods of time in Vienna, Rome (where he served as maestro coadiutore and later maestro di cappella of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican), and Stuttgart, before finally returning to Naples near the end of his life.
Jommelli’s most active period of sacred composition was the early 1750s when he was most focused on his duties at St. Peter’s. During his time at the Incurabili he wrote several liturgical works, but these were almost all for treble voices. In addition, his duties in Stuttgart included the supervision of church music, but very few compositions of his own have been preserved from this period.
The date for this Magnificat remains unknown, but it almost definitely comes from Jommelli’s time at St. Peter’s. The scoring for only voices and continuo and the contrapuntal writing of the choral movements make this piece typical of his output for that venue. In addition, the piece includes many sections which could lend themselves effectively to antiphonal ensemble singing, a technique Jommelli used quite often and rather effectively in the Basilica. This work typifies the transitory nature of Jommelli’s music, combining both the Galant convention of flowing melodies over a simple continuo in the solo movements and Baroque counterpoint in the choral movements.
The edition used in this recording was completed from a single source manuscript. It is an undated and unsigned copy which currently resides in the British Library (Edgerton 2463). Since the copyist is unknown, it cannot be verified whether the score dates from the composer’s lifetime, but the score appears to be pre-1800. The twenty-seven page manucript is easily readable and was probably used in performance of the work as is evidenced by several markings in a different handwriting.
The Chicago Galant Consort
Thomas J. Tropp, music director/conductor; Elizabeth E. Doran, associate music director/executive director
Elda McGinty Peralta
Jay Kory Johnson
Martin Davids, concertmaster