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J.F. Weber
Fanfare, November 2010

The major work, an early zarzuela by Sebastian Durón (1660–1716), is filled out with a group of brief arias, so this rightly belongs under the name of a generally neglected composer. Savino explains that works of this kind included a great deal of dialogue and brief vocal numbers, a format not conducive to a recorded performance. Hence he has stitched together only the major musical numbers, filling out the disc with music of the era. The zarzuela began in the reign of Philip IV, a time marked by the painting of Velásquez and the literature of Cervantes. It was named after his hunting retreat, where the earliest productions took place. Durón arrived at the court of his son, Charles II, much later, in 1691, but after the Bourbon Philip V arrived, Durón, on the wrong side of the civil war, was exiled in 1706.

The story (the title means “Love Leaves the World”) is something about a conflict between Cupid and Diana. All five singers are female, as customary in zarzuelas of the time. Somehow Durón is seen as integrating Spanish and Italian compositional styles, although the Italian influence intruded mainly with Philip V’s second queen, a Farnese noblewoman, in 1714, long after Durón’s departure. (Farinelli did not arrive until 1737.) Dorian has abandoned its brief flirtation with booklets that had to be downloaded, so the 32-page booklet provides everything we expect with a disc like this. The lightweight music is sung with flair, and we even get a male voice in the encores when Paul Shipper, busy playing guitar, gets to sing a piece by Hidalgo. The other two Hidalgo pieces are given to Jennifer Kampani, the fine Cupid of the main work. Specialists will want this, since there seems to be little else available.

Glyn Pursglove
MusicWeb International, October 2010

Durón was first employed by the Spanish court in 1691 as organist of the royal chapel; by 1702 he had become maestro de capilla and also Director of the Royal Choir School. Alongside this work he wrote prolifically for theatrical performances in Madrid, and the delightful zarzuela recorded here seems to be one of the first of such theatrical works. However he backed the wrong side (the Austrians) in the war of the Spanish Succession and the Bourbon King had no desire to continue paying his salary, so that his court posts were terminated in 1706. In 1707 he was exiled from Madrid…and went to France.

In recording Salir el Amor del Mundo (Love Leaves the World) Richard Savino has adopted an un-pedantic and healthily interventionist approach. He has omitted the spoken texts and some of the merely functional sung texts or incidental pieces. As he explains in his notes he has chosen, rather, to “‘stitch together’ certain scenes into cohesive musical numbers and then augment this recording with additional works”. In the event of a theatrical revival of Salir el Amor del Mundo some different judgements would surely be made—I remain a little uneasy about the omission of the work’s loa or introduction, with its paying of respects to the royal family. Savino’s approach generally works admirably here, and the listener benefits from both the synopsis—which unfortunately isn’t consistently keyed into track numbers correctly—and libretto and translation provided. The original libretto was the work of the prolific José de Cañizares (1676–1750), theatrical censor and cavalry officer, who was very much in sympathy with Durón’s strategy of incorporating motifs from Italian opera into zarzuela.

Cupid has impudently intruded into the forest of Diana, goddess of hunting and emblem of chastity. Offended, and concerned about the safety of her nymphs, she seeks to punish Cupid and calls on the assistance of Apollo, Mars and Jupiter. After some difficulties, Cupid is captured and banished to a cave:

En el cóncavo profundo
da un risco colore el rigore
ya que vino al mundo Amor,
que salga el Amor del mundo

(Which John Deredita translates thus: ‘In the deep hollow of a cliff / Let severity be shown. / Since Cupid came into the world, / Let Cupid leave the world’).

Savino records the work with a largish ensemble, which plays with vivacity and supports the singers well throughout. Jennifer Ellis Kampani is particularly effective as Cupid, shaping Durón’s melodic lines elegantly while imbuing them with a well-characterised cheekiness! Karen Clark (as both Diana and Morpheus) is expressive and assured, and manages to project a firmly moral demeanour without sounding merely prim. Indeed all the singers—along with the instrumentalists—impress favourably. They put a persuasive case for Salir el Amor del Mundo, so much so that they make one want to hear, or better still, see, a performance of the whole thing.

There is a good deal of pleasure to be had, too, from the additional works on the CD. José Marin’s ‘Ojos pues me dedeñais’ a solemn courtly-love lament is sung by Nell Snaidas (the Jupiter of Salir el Amor del Mundo) with a fittingly grave sophistication; Marin’s ‘Aquella sierra nevada’, full of conflicted emotions, gets a fiery performance from Jennifer Ellis Kampani; Juan Hidalgo’s ‘Aquella sierra nevada’ is expressively interpreted by Erica Schuller (Mars in the disc’s major work), full of unforced melancholic dignity.

The whole disc makes a valuable—and enjoyable—contribution to the growing recorded repertoire of seventeenth-century Spanish music.

John W Barker
American Record Guide, September 2010

We are only beginning to have recordings of the early literature of that intensely Spanish theatrical form, the zarzuela. Here we have a small but important contribution.

Little known today, especially outside Spain, is one of the early masters of the idiom, Sebastian Duron (1660-1716). Dating from 1696, his work here can be translated “Love Leaves the World” or “Cupid’s Final Folly”. In its simplistic plot, Cupid, or Amor, is so besotted by his ability to subject any target to his amorous power that he contrives to bring down the chaste goddess Diana and then Jupiter himself. Not even Cupid’s mother, Venus, will help him when Olympian rage brings him down and leads to his being sealed up in a cave. (Did he ever escape? One wonders.)

The zarzuela idiom, close to our musical comedy (if with much better music, in a style kindred to Italian opera) mixed musical numbers with spoken dialog. Committed only to the “dramatic” plot, Savino has bypassed the dialog completely, cut a bit of the main score, and arbitrarily left out the customary introductory loa or prologue in praise of the monarch—a loss of genuine Duron music, however redundant the sentiments. The result is a compression into a mere 36 minutes of a fulllength stage work—something less than justice to the composer and his idiom. Nevertheless, the surviving music is spirited and cleverly varied.

As Savino points out in his booklet notes, it was common to perform these theatrical pieces for the royal court with the roles written and performed only by female singers—who apparently supplied other services to the courtiers. This makes for a somewhat monochromatic tone, not to mention dramatic incongruities (sopranos as Mars and father Jove?). Fortunately, the five singers here are all excellent, with Kampani making a genuine personality out of the obstreperous Cupid. Savino has reconstituted a typical pit ensemble, with seven string players, harpsichord, a clarino trumpeter, two percussionists, and four ebullient thwackers on various guitars and lutes.

To fill up the space left by his condensation of the main work, Savino has assembled five vocal pieces from that theatrical world by composers Juan Hidalgo (1614-85) and José Marin (1619-99), sung very nicely by three of the sopranos, with guitarist Paul Shipper applying his fine bass voice to one, for an isolated touch of masculinity. Finally, there is a composite treatment of the fandango dance idiom patched together from three sources, including the inescapable Soler.

Excellent sound. Full texts and translations. A nice treat for lovers of baroque novelty.

James Manheim, August 2010

Sebastián Durón's Salir el amor del mundo (Love Leaves the World) is an early zarzuela, dating from 1696. The topic of the plot, sort of wistfully comic, is the encroachment of Cupid on the territory of chaste Diana, who is anything but glad to see him. Several of the gods are forced to take sides in the ensuing conflict; they're supposed to back Diana, but they're ruefully forced to concede that Cupid has gotten to them in the past. Performances of zarzuelas (Spanish comic operas) from this period are rare, which would be reason enough to welcome this U.S. release, but it has the additional advantages of being well sung, well presented, and generally a lot of fun. There are several unusual features to this recording, with an orchestra and large plucked-string continuo group under the direction of San Francisco Bay Area Baroque guitarist Richard Savino. One is that he uses all female singers, following the theory of scholar Louise Stein that such presentations were intended partly to put female flesh on display for male audiences. Whatever the merits of this idea, the performers, especially Jennifer Ellis Kampani as Cupid, act as well as sing, and generally animate the work's lively texts. Another unusual aspect is that Savino opts not to present the entire work, which includes a good deal of spoken dialogue and formal material unrelated to the main plot. Instead he rounds out the disc with short works and excerpts on similar themes by other composers...Savino's notes (in English only, with the text of the zarzuela given in Spanish and English) deepen the listener's appreciation, showing how Durón mixed elements imported from Italian opera with native Spanish refrain forms. This album marks something of a milestone for the U.S. early music recording industry: it offers a fresh recording of an unknown work, with high levels of overall musicianship, an attempt to reach beyond an audience of specialists, and fine sound, recorded at no less a facility than Skywalker Studios. Highly recommended.

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