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Despite his 300 or so works, the Italian baroque composer Alessandro Stradella (1639-82) is not widely known. His life, already the subject of two forgotten operas and a novel, would make a racy film: a Tuscan aristocrat who worked in Rome, he embezzled money from the Catholic church, led a dissolute life involving nuns and rich men’s wives and, after an early assassination attempt, was murdered in Genoa. It would be an exaggeration to say any of this is evident in his music. Yet it has energy and invention, as demonstrated by the Rome-based period ensemble Mare Nostrum, who make a speciality of music from their own eternal city. Perhaps less for the general listener than the baroque specialist, this serenata for seven voices, two ensembles and concerto grosso has its own vitality and charm.



Fiona Maddocks



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