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Harmonia Uncut: 50 Shades of Baroque

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Hello, and welcome to Harmonia Uncut, the podcast that brings you modern performances of very old music. I’m Wendy Gillespie inviting you to listen with me to part of a concert from Macalester College in St. Paul MN in Oct. of 2017. We’ll hear a cantata by Antonio Caldara called Vicino a un rivoletto performed by an ensemble whose name, I am reliably informed, is 50 Shades of Baroque, in a concert eponymously titled – er – 50 Shades of Baroque! My spy did not divulge the inspiration behind the name – but wait! – I think I get it. The concert comprised music of 17th and 18th century Italy, Spain, England and Germany, so what we have here is a subtle reference to chiaroscuro, the treatment of light and shadow in which art, and indeed the music of the period reveled.

The performers are the soprano Nerea Barraondo, mezzo-soprano, Clea Galhano, recorder, Tulio Rondón, cello and viola da gamba (cello in this case), and Donald Livingston, harpsichord.

The opening recitative of our cantata sets the stage: Coriolanus, the faithful prince errant, awaits his dear Cleopatra calling for succor from the winds, uttering these sweet words – and this is the first of two da capo arias – “Zeffiretto amorosetto – pretty little zephyr, go tell her I love her; noisy little bird, say that I adore her, though she is proud and cruel to me.”

Then comes what I call the “ma” moment (ma means “but” in Italian, always a rhetorical turning point): “But, oh heaven, nobody cares how cruelly wounded I am” – which is followed by the3 second da capo aria: “Alas, I feel my poor heart faint from grief; you alone, my treasure, who can set my heart on fire, can put out the flame in whose torment I burn…”


That was the ensemble 50 Shades of Baroque performing Antonio Caldara’s Vicino a un rivoletto from 1729. This performance was in Oct, 2017 at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. Thanks go to Donald Livingston, the harpsichordist of the ensemble, for sending this recording. His colleagues are Nerea Barraondo, mezzo-soprano, Clea Galhano, recorder, and Tulio Rondón, cello.

We’re interested in your thoughts about anything you’ve heard on this podcast. You can leave a comment or question by visiting Harmonia early music dot org and clicking in “contact.” This has been the Harmonia Uncut podcast, and I’m Wendy Gillespie – thanks for listening!

50 Shades of Baroque

I’m not kidding. Above is the illustration from the program for the supergroup called 50 Shades of Baroque, who were performing a concert most intriguingly titled eponymously at Macalester College, St. Paul MN, in October of 2017. Mezzo soprano, recorder, cello and harpsichord come together for a performance of a cantata by the Italian composer Antonio Caldara (1670-1736).

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