Ruggieri - Prigionero d’amor: Cantatas & Trio Sonatas | Vox Regis VXR0005

Ruggieri - Prigionero d’amor: Cantatas & Trio Sonatas


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Label: Vox Regis

Cat No: VXR0005

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 14th September 2018



Giovanni Maria Ruggieri (c. 1669-1714) was a Venetian composer and impresario, a colourful character whose music is as fascinating as his biography. Something of a wheeler-dealer, Ruggieri was guilty of embezzlement and was even imprisoned for debt when his attempts at staging his own opera failed spectacularly.

Ruggieri’s Trio Sonatas and Cantatas are far more elegant than his chaotic lifestyle would suggest, but still display much of the man’s inventive spirit. Whilst rooted in late 17th-century style, they demonstrate a keen desire for effect and an interest in experimentation.

The Trio Sonatas were composed for the church. It seems likely that Ruggieri was aiming to impress the dedicatee of these works, Leopold I, the Habsburg Emperor and an ecclesiastical figurehead, for whom music in Viennese churches was of paramount importance. As one might expect, the ‘church style’ of Trio Sonata was suitable for performance in that setting: restrained and ‘learned’. Yet, as the pieces on this disc demonstrate, Ruggieri pushed the boundaries, combining the learned style with modern techniques and moments of experimentation. Slow movements are solemn, with an air of gravitas and steeped in musical rhetorical gesture, while idiomatic writing propels the faster movements. Dance style is merged with fugal technique (the final movement of Sonata 7 is a fugal gigue), and the musical quality is quite remarkable.

The poetic themes explored in Ruggieri’s Cantatas are typical of both cantata literature and Arcadian poetry of the time. Nos. 1 and 8 agonise over unrequited love while No. 6 revels in newly discovered love. No.7 bemoans the separation from the desired one. The duet (no.12) deals with love, loss and death.

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