Product details

Gaetano Veneziano (1656-1716)
Passio per il Venerdi Santo / Johannes-Passion (1702)
for for  soli choir two violins viola and basso continuo
Edited by Tobias Schwinger


Hardcover, Leipzig format, XIV + 86 pages / set of parts (om329/2) ISMN 979-0-502342-48-7 on request
incl. VAT plus shipping costs 65,00 EUR

The “Passio per il Venerdi Santo”, a setting of the Passion of Christ for Good Friday composed in 1702 by Gaetano Veneziano (1656–1716) and based on the passion text of John the Evangelist, may be judged to be one of the major achievements of this Neapolitan composer and possibly of Neapolitan sacred music from the turn of the 17th to the 18th century in general. The particular status of Naples (1504–1707 like Sicily under Spanish rule) for Italian music culture, especially regarding its significance for the development of Baroque opera, is generally known; this cannot be said of its sacred music repertoire of the time, however, which was at least equally profuse and many-faceted (one reason being that so far only few pieces are available in modern editions). The enormous number of manuscript masses, motets, psalm settings, drammi sacri, oratorios and passion settings from the 15th to 19th centuries in the city’s libraries attest to this situation. [...]

Born in 1656 in Bisceglie (Bari, Apulia), Veneziano counted, together with Francesco Fago (1677–1745), Francesco Mancini (1672–1737) and Nicolo Grimaldi, called Nicolini (1673–1732), among the most gifted pupils of Francesco Provenzale (1624–1704), who in the last third of the 17th century was one of the most distinguished teachers and composers of Naples. Apparently he made a name for himself as a musician already at a young age, for as early as in 1679 the viceroy of Naples engaged him as extraordinary (third) organist of the Cappella Reale. In 1686 he obtained an official position in the Cappella, replacing Giovanni Cesare Netti (†1686) as organist. He also taught at the Conservatorio S. Maria di Loreto, initially in 1684 and then from 1695 until his death in 1716. In the Cappella Reale Veneziano’s life path crossed that of one of the most celebrated composers active at the time in Naples and Rome – Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725), who after his successful career in Rome and his first opera productions in Naples had been appointed director of the Cappella Reale. Scarlatti frequently commuted between his numerous engagements both in Rome and Naples, and when in 1703 he seemed to have left Naples for good, Veneziano seized his chance to replace him as maestro di cappella. [...]

If we take a look at other works composed by Veneziano at around the same time, we gain the impression that from about the 1680s onward he integrated stylistic elements of the oratorio and opera in his liturgical sacred music. This is noticeable already in his settings, dating from the 1680s and 1690s, of the Lamentations of Jeremiah for the matins of Holy Week, which already display numerous stylistic features of the 1702 “Passio”, for example the logical development of the texture from a consistent, distinctive basso continuo interacting motivically with the upper parts, the frequent employment of two violins and a viola (partly used as a solo instrument), and the frequently altered meter and keys combined with marked tempo changes, resulting in strikingly distinct musical idioms. Veneziano achieves a larger, aria-like coherence in his music by repeating individual words and phrases and through the employment of ritornello structures. All these he employs in order to reach a dramatization and affect-oriented representation of the Passion narrative in accordance with the gusto moderno, thus stylistically approaching the Passion oratorio, but without using non- biblical texts. This tradition continued especially in 18th-century Naples for quite a while in the contributions to the genre by Francesco Feo (1691–1761), Pietro Antonio Gallo (1700–1777), Gaspare Gabellone (1727–1796) and the Passions of Giovanni Paisiello (1740–1816).

From the preface by Tobias Schwinger
Translation by Stephanie Wollny

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