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The Borghese and Music

Roman instrumental music of the seventeenth century

The Galleria Borghese continues the research project “The Borghese and Music”, launched last December, with the second baroque concert entitled Music in the GalleryRoman instrumental music of the seventeenth century.

On Saturday October 9th at 5.30 p.m., the concert will also be featured in the program “Dal Vivo” on Rai Radio 3 Classica.

With the project “The Borghese and Music”, whose artistic direction is overseen by Riccardo Martinini, the Gallery enriches its art collection through the valorisation and divulgation of the Italian musical heritage.

The Baroque Concert, performed by Enrico Gatti and the Ensemble Aurora, focuses on three composers who were very well known in Roman circles during the 17th century: Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), destined to become the absolute protagonist of instrumental music in Baroque Rome, whom reached worldwide fame for having succeeded in proposing unparalleled models of harmonic perfection and compositional synthesis; Lelio Colista (1629-1680) and Carlo Mannelli (1640 – 1697), composers belonging to previous generations, who developed their instrumental language by balancing it with that of a vocal nature. Some of these works are performed for the first time in modern times.

In the Rome of the second half of the seventeenth century, numerous performances of instrumental and vocal music resounded in the halls of the city’s sumptuous cardinal palaces, in churches and oratories, in the scenic piazzas which, like ‘natural’ theatrical spaces, welcomed the many pilgrims who came to the city for such occasions.

Among the works being performed first are the Sonate a tre by Carlo Mannelli, whose manuscripts are preserved at the Museo Internazionale della Musica in Bologna, which are characterized by a distinctly virtuoso violin writing. Born in Rome in 1640, to a family of Pistoiese origin, Mannelli, often remembered in sources by the nickname of “Carluccio” or “Carlo del violino”, made his debut as a very young singer at San Luigi dei Francesi in 1650, and then trained as a violinist (unfortunately his teachers are unknown) and became one of the most appreciated virtuosi of the city, together with Lonati, Stradella and, the oldest, Lelio Colista. With the latter he had the opportunity to play on many occasions and for the most illustrious Roman patrons. In 1671 he was already at the service of the Borghese family, and in 1674 the name of Mannelli appeared, together with that of Colista, in the list of instrumentalists called upon to perform an oratorio for the Holy Week in the chapel of the palace of Prince Giovan Battista Borghese. The names of the two instrumentalists are to be found again on the occasion of the performance of a comedy with prologues and intermediates set to music, also performed at Palazzo Borghese for the carnival of 1678.

The lutenist and composer Lelio Colista (1629-1680), whose works profoundly influenced the development of Corelli’s style, was a composer particularly dedicated to the genre of the sonata a tre, “famous lute and guitar player” and “composer of beautiful symphonies”, as the composer and theorist Giuseppe Ottavio Pitoni noted, and could represent in the eyes of the young Corelli, who had just arrived in Rome, a model to look up to. From a very young age, crowned by Athanasius Kircher as “vere Romanae Urbis Orpheus” (Musurgia Universalis, I, Rome 1650, p. 480), Colista was at the service of the most important Roman families (Barberini, Chigi, Borghese, Odescalchi) and achieved in the course of his career considerable fame as an instrumentalist, composer and teacher.

The Ensemble Aurora was founded in 1986 by Enrico Gatti with the aim of creating an instrumental group that would research a new concept of sound emission based on the imitation of the human voice, using period instruments combined with long historical and musical preparation. In addition to participating in numerous festivals and international concerts, the ensemble has made dozens of soundtracks that have been awarded several times with the Diapason d’or, the Premio Vivaldi, Choc de la Musique, Scelta di Amadeus, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik and other major awards.

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