…Fine motets by Stradella and Bassani make this disc worth investigation. …violinist Patrick Cohën-Akenine with his excellent bad Les Folies Françoises play with resonant warmth, particularly in two dynamically charged Corelli sonatas.(Gramophone Magazine)
There are some real injustices in the business of recorded music and this disc brings one of them very much to light. The opening lines of the liner notes say, "Until relatively recently, the reputation of Alessandro Scarlatti – the son, brother, father and uncle of other illustrious musicians – was overshadowed by that of his son Domenico." It is not stated on this disc whether the notes were written to go with this Apex re-issue or whether they date from the same period as the recording, but Alessandro’s reputation, if he has one, is still very much under his wonderful son’s shadow. It is an indication of a massive injustice, that this re-issue goes some small way to correcting.
The Scarlatti family is one of many musical dynasties in music history. Only two of its number are still well-known today: Alessandro and his son Domenico. Alessandro was born in Palermo as the second son of Pietro Scarlata - the family name in its original form - who was active as a tenor. During his career Alessandro lived and worked in several cities: Rome, Naples and Venice. At a young age he was already a famous and much sought-after composer. His younger brother Francesco – almost forgotten today - was less lucky. He was appointed as violinist at the royal court in Naples in 1684, but returned to Palermo in 1691, and stayed there for about 24 years. He tried to find appointments at the courts of Vienna and Naples, but failed. In 1719 he travelled to London, where he participated in public concerts. In 1733 he went to Dublin, where he seems to have died in 1741 or soon after. Domenico suffered tribulations too. It was only after the death of his father that he felt completely free to follow his own path, although he had left Italy five years earlier, in 1720.
The biblical story of the princess Judith, who seduces and then beheads the invading Assyrian general Holofernes, has attracted composers from the early days of opera almost down to the present day with its mixture of gore, patriotic self-sacrifice, and latent feminist themes.