1704 or later.
Oblong folio (225 x 263 mm). Full vellum with early manuscript titling to spine. 1f. (recto title, verso 'Intorlocutori'), 3-127 pp. Notated in black ink on 10-stave rastrum-ruled paper. Watermark of a fleur-de-lys within a circle.
With early numbering in manuscript ("84") to upper inner corner of upper board and head of spine. Title in faint ink in a different on the spine "La Madre dei Maccabei Ariosti"
Binding somewhat worn, rubbed, bumped, and stained; titling to spine faded; head and tail of spine chipped. In very good condition internally.
Apparently only one of two sources, the other being at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (F-Pn D-233; RISM ID: 840000549). Additionally, a manuscript set of parts is recorded in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, at the Benedikterkloster music library. No published editions located.
Ariosti was a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and diplomat, with a colorful and storied career. He worked in several cosmopolitan European cultural capitals including Berlin, Vienna, and London, where he rubbed shoulders with Handel, performing an interlude between the acts of Handel's opera Amadigi. A composer of ample expressive powers, he counted Jean-Philippe Rameau among his admirers.
La Madre De Maccabei, to a libretto after Girolamo Gigli, was first performed for the imperial chapel of Vienna in 1704. The present manuscript and F-Pn D-233 are in the same hand. The Paris source is a full score. In contrast, this manuscript is likely a performance score, possibly prepared for a conductor, who may have led from the harpsichord or another continuo instrument. As such, the string parts are sometimes omitted, as in the arias "Madre vuoi piangere" (p. 15) and "Fuggi má va lontano" (p. 106), which include only the voice and continuo parts. Two arias, "Troppo forte si rese" (p. 88) and "Vorrei confondere" (p. 97) are incomplete, with the former retaining its full A section, and the latter only a fragment of the B section. These pieces may have been purposely cut for a specific performance or they may have been accidentally omitted. The conclusion of the oratorio (pp. 109-27) features extended accompanied recitative and a fugal aria. As these finale movements might have necessitated a more involved approach to conducting (in order to keep the ensemble together), the string parts are provided in full.
Ariosti's compositional powers are on full display in the present oratorio. The work opens with a sarabande-like introduction, followed by a prelude in binary form that gives way to a substantial duple meter fugue, which returns to a slow triple, enhanced by the gravitas of slow soaring melodies. Highlights include a memorable bass melody that creates sobbing sounds through pulsation and dissonant leaps ("E terribile quel seno," p. 36), and impressive virtuosic writing for bass voice ("E il timore ancor quaggiù," p. 61). The accompanied recitative on pp. 109-13 ("Gran nume d'Israel") is composed in F minor, with an indication "senza Cembalo" (without harpsichord). The use of this flat-heavy key creates a special tenebrous atmosphere, due to the lack of bright-sounding open strings. The absence of harpsichord would have allowed the strings and voice to tune to one another in more-or-less just intonation, further enhancing the drama of the moment. The fugue that concludes the oratorio sports the same subject and countersubject of the overture's fugue. The change in key (from F# minor in the overture to F minor) and the activation of the listener's memory ties the oratorio together.
An attractive and well-preserved manuscript of a masterful work by a well-regarded high baroque composer, possibly intended to be used for performance.
Price: $2,500.00 other currencies