Stradella was murdered in Genoa when he was forty-two years old. Until then he enjoyed a dazzling career as a freelance composer, writing on commission, collaborating with distinguished poets, producing over three hundred works in a variety of genres. His musical style is distinctive, characterized by fluid lines, great skill in counterpoint, and harmony which was tonal but which occasionally offers chords that were unusual then and striking even today.
The oratorio San Giovanni Battista was written for performance on Palm Sunday in the Holy Year of 1675 where some fourteen oratorios were commissioned by the confraternity of the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome—an auspicious event. San Giovanni Battista is a deeply ‘Baroque’ score, vibrant, rhythmically insistent, requiring singers to perform phrases of difficult fiorituras or deeply moving legato lines. The libretto is dramatic and emotionally vivid, and the music is closely tied to the text, creating a distinctly operatic atmosphere—described by the disc’s conductor Alessandro De Marchi as ‘a true Salome’.