La serva padrona
, Recitative and Aria: Ah, quanto mi sta male/Son imbrogliato io
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 7 Tracks 1-6
With a soft thud somehow audible though most of Europe, the Baroque era came to an end as J. S. Bach’s neck muscles lost the strength to hold his mighty head aloft and, consequently, his forehead came to rest on the edge of his writing desk littered with out-of-fashion fugues. In spite of the many professors who repeatedly tell their students this was not how it happened, college and graduate school exams reinforce the sense of this thud when they divide music history into two parts: before and after 1750. Radio stations lend a hand as well. Since they are usually playing music since 1750 and overplaying their limited libraries of earlier music, many listeners may never hear a piece too far from that date. These are listeners (driving to work in the dark AM) who may be underestimated by the radio DJs. In many cases, these are DJs whose sense of history is often burden by music degrees.
Which is why it is delightful to me to find the first example of classical
music in this anthology to be by Pergolesi
, a guy who died in 1736.
What I like about the recitative and aria from his funny intermezzo is the recitative. Perhaps I am sensitive to it because I still have Saul ringing in my ears. However, the question marks outlined by the strings at track 2 add depth and comedy to this flexible, speech-like song.