Giuseppe Sammartini | Le cantate profane
Critical edition edited by Maria Teresa Dellaborra
LIM Editore, Lucca
Collection of Italian Music from the Eighteenth Century
in collaboration with Società Italiana di Musicologia.
Alberto Basso, Mariateresa Dellaborra, Teresa Gialdroni, Friedrich Lippmann, Guido Salvetti, Agostino Ziino
Giuseppe Sammartini (1695-1750), born into a family tradition of musicians and older brother of Giovanni Battista, began his activity in the area of Milan as an oboist in the orchestra of the Ducal Theater. In 1729 he was called to London by Händel to be part of the King’s Theater orchestra. From that time on, he established his residence on the territory of England and enjoyed uncontested successes both as a performer (he was defined «the best that the world has ever known») and as a composer. His concertos for harpsichord or organ op. 9, the concerti grossi op. 2 and op. 5, as well as the sonatas op.1 are famous.
In the context of vocal music, Sammartini left us with a rather numerous collection of profane cantatas, some of which have an evident celebratory purpose. These raise particular interest at least for two reasons: in the context of Milan, the cantata did not have particularly relevant following at the time and therefore the work of Sammartini represents an exception; with respect to his contemporary English models, the pages by Sammartini introduce new elements both with respect to form and style. In addition to such peculiarities, these enrich the knowledge of a very widespread genre that as late as in the first quarter of the XVIII century was still considered to be aristocratic and exclusive.
All in manuscript form, the cantatas are not marked with dates, but probably they are to be collocated in a wide chronological span of time: from his Italian period of residence of 1717-1727 (most likely Solitudine campestre and Tu piangi Eurilla mia) to the London period 1729-1750 ( in praise of the Princess of Wales). The structure is three or four sections with the following sequence: Recitativo – Aria – Recitativo – Aria; Aria – Recitativo – Aria. The nine cantatas (Ahi qual cruccio – Da procella tempestosa – L’olmo – Oh vita, vita no – Solitudine campestre – Tu piangi, Eurilla mia – In lode della principessa del Gales – Più non sento – Naufragio vicino) represent a homogenous body not only for the uniformity of the form, but also for the quality of contents.
The author of the literary text is unknown.