Rare manuscripts from the library of an Italian abbey, rediscovered and recorded for the first time.

Domenico Laboccetta
Domenico Corigliano
Ernesto Antonio Luigi Coop
Padre Placido Abela
Pietro Ray, Padre Bonifacio Maria Krug
Saverio Mercadante
Sigismond Thalberg
Vincenzo Bellini
Valentino Bertoja

Matteo Malagoli cello
Yukiko Shimizu, Ludovica Marcuzzi soprano
Flavia Del Guidice, Milli Fullin mezzo-soprano
Alberto Pelosin conductor
Cristina Centa harp
Lisa De Polo piano
Alvise Mason organ, harmonium
Raffaele Giordani tenor
Hazar Mursitpinar baritone

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Just off the main road between Rome and Naples, the Benedictine abbey at Monte Cassino can date its foundation back to AD529, though it gained a more tragic renown during the Second World War as the site of exceptionally heavy Allied bombing in order to break Nazi defensive lines. The abbey’s surviving library of manuscripts (theological, musical and others) was mostly moved to Rome during postwar reconstruction, but local archives mined for this release have turned up a treasure trove of pieces which testify to a lively culture of chamber music at the abbey during the 19th century.
Several of the brothers must have been dedicated cellists of considerable gifts to judge from the surviving scores. They include a collection of six cello duets by Valentino Bertoja (1757-after 1820), a composer from the Veneto region to the north: the Duet No 6 opens this collection. The two most prominent monk musicians featured here are Padre Placido Abela (1814-1876), originally from Siracusa in Sicily, and Padre Mauro Liberatore (1810-1879) from L’Aquila.
It is Liberatore who arranged both sacred and secular pieces to give a starring role to the cello, such as ‘Casta Diva’ from Bellini’s Norma, and a then-popular aria from Mercadante’s Il giuramento. Abela composed ‘Concerti armonici’ for a trio of piano, harmonium and cello, and then a part for the string instrument in the
liturgical inserts of his Missa solennis. Other composers wrote pieces specifically for Liberatore to play, such as the Barcarola by the Sicilian cellist and composer Domenico Laboccetta (1823-1896), and two composers local to Monte Cassino, Pietro Ray (1773-1857) and Domenico Corigliano (1770-1838).


Valentino Bertoja: Sixth Cello Duet in E-Flat Major:
00:00:00 I. Allegro maestoso
00:03:36 II. Pastorale
00:05:29 III. Finale in contradanza
00:06:52 Saverio Mercadante: Elegia
00:11:40 Padre Placido Abela: Concerto armónico
00:25:45 Saverio Mercadante: Solo
00:31:11 Padre Placido Abela: Concerto armónico
00:37:16 Saverio Mercadante: The Dream
00:43:25 Ernesto Antonio Luigi Coop: La passione, Op. 40
00:50:39 Domenico Laboccetta: Barcarola
00:54:43 Ernesto Antonio Luigi Coop: Pensiero lugubre, Op. 50
01:03:23 Vincenzo Bellini: Casta diva, che inargenti
01:15:10 Domenico Corigliano: In Monte Oliveti
01:16:59 Domenico Corigliano: Plange quasi virgo
01:21:34 Domenico Corigliano: Sancta Maria
01:22:59 Pietro Ray: Salve regina
01:32:38 Saverio Mercadante: Salve Maria
01:39:35 Sigismond Thalberg: Andante religioso
01:42:50 Padre Placido Abela: Apertura
01:46:04 Padre Placido Abela: Introduction to gratias agimus
01:47:20 Padre Placido Abela: Offertorio per l’organo strumentato
01:53:10 Padre Placido Abela: Armonia pel tempo dell’elevazione
01:57:33 Padre Bonifacio Maria Krug: Il Golgota

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