Sances: Capricci Poetici, 1649

Irene Morelli, Beatrice Mercuri mezzosoprani, Diego Cantalupi archlute, Giuseppe Schinaia harpsichord
Tactus TC 601903

Active at the imperial Hapsburg court in Vienna, Sances wrote a vast body of church music, little of which is performed today. His secular music has enjoyed little more lasting success, and these secular works – arias, cantatas and canzonettas from the first part of his Capricci Poetici  published in Venice in 1649 – soon fell from favour, as did the by then rather passé dramatic madrigals which made up part two. Indeed Sances’ deputy Schmelzer is on record as saying that he had to restrict his own more cutting-edge output so as not to offend ‘old Sances’. So poor Sances is something of a victim of changing taste, although of course his compatriot, Salieri, was still holding sway in Vienna fully a century later. Having said that, these rather lacklustre accounts of secular songs in which both singers are inclined to undercut notes and to take a rather cavalier approach to intonation generally will be unlikely to win Sances any more friends. It is hard to gauge how much of the blame for these rather grimly dull performances accrues to the performers or the composer, but this CD has a routine feel to it which does the music few favours.

D. James Ross