Rimembranze di Napoli - Sara Simari, harp

CD Rimembranze chiuso


RIMEMBRANZE DI NAPOLI

L’arpa al Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella  Tra ‘800 e ‘900

 

Sara Sìmari, arpa

 

Approdata nel Sud Italia in tempi remoti, l’arpa ha da sempre incontrato il favore di musici, cantori e poeti partenopei. Nella sua lunga storia, Napoli, e tutto il suo territorio meridionale, accolse dotti di ogni nazionalità, credo e provenienza; fu Regno aperto, crogiolo di culture, anche opposte come quella plebea e quella togata, che ancora convivono armoniosamente.

Anche l’arpa non si sottrasse a questo esercizio e divenne presto strumento apprezzato in vari contesti, dal sacro al profano, dal colto al popolare.

La grande popolarità che essa godette nel Regno di Napoli produsse un humus propizio per la nascita della scuola napoletana di arpa a pedali a doppio movimento ad opera di Filippo Scotti (Napoli 1790-1868 Napoli), primo docente di arpa del Real Conservatorio San Pietro Majella, istituto nel 1826 inglobando la gloriosa tradizione dei quattro antichissimi conservatori preesistenti.

 

Il contesto in cui sorge questa nuova scuola di arpa è veramente stimolante.

A Napoli confluivano molti studiosi, moltissimi aspiranti musicisti alla ricerca di buoni studi e di un ambiente culturalmente vivace in cui potersi confrontare e misurare professionalmente. Sedotti dalla vivacità e competenza strumentale della nuova scuola, molti compositori dedicarono al nostro strumento pagine importanti (basti citare il repertorio orchestrale di Rossini e Donizetti). Tra gli autori vi sono anche arpisti, brillanti interpreti e didatti applauditi fino in Sud America e  Australia.

 

In questo tempo, la produzione arpistica si arricchisce di materiale didattico quanto di repertorio cameristico e solistico, che, come vuole la moda dell’epoca, si ispira alle arie operistiche predilette dal pubblico. Tendenza, questa, molto diffusa anche in scala nazionale nella musica per arpa, ma che a Napoli aggiunge una sensibile presenza di operisti di scuola napoletana e, soprattutto, di temi popolari antichi o delle canzoni più in voga.

Non bisogna trascurare, infatti, che in pieno Ottocento la canzone napoletana si avviava al periodo di massimo fulgore e diffusione su scala internazionale, grazie all’apporto di importanti esponenti della cultura, cessando così di rappresentare solo una curiosità folkloristica.

 

Il CD, apre con una delle composizioni più riuscite di Giovanni Caramiello, Rimembranza di Napoli, Fantasia per arpa sopra temi popolari, op. 6, basata sui temi celeberrimi di Fenesta ca lucive e Santa Lucia, mentre meno note, ma non meno interessanti, sono le Sei melodie popolari raccolte ne Le Serenate del Vesuvio, trascritte e variate in forma di studi op. 12.

Scelgono l’ambito operistico gli autori Michele Albano e Ferdinando Bonamici (Napoli 1827-1905). Il primo sceglie la musica di Mascagni, adattando interamente l’incantevole Intermezzo da Cavalleria Rusticana con un’unica variazione; mentre il secondo autore, nella Romanza dell’Otello variata per arpa op. 38, utilizza la commovente romanza Assisa a’ piè d’un salice nella versione rossiniana; il brano presenta variazioni di bravura (e una,cadenza originale di Sara Simari). 

Uno dei più brillanti concertisti di scuola napoletana, Felix Lebano, sceglie invece di cimentarsi in una composizione dal sapore più cosmopolita, rispondendo ai richiami dell’esotismo iberico, nella sua Sérénade Andalousienne.

Come già Bonamici, i compositori Niccolò van Westerhout (Mola di Bari 1857- 1898 Napoli) unitamente ad Alessandro Longo (Amantea - Cosenza 1864-1945 Napoli) e Giovanni Frojo (Catanzaro 1847-1925 Catanzaro), rappresentano solo una parte dei tanti artisti che, grazie agli stimoli della prestigiosa scuola napoletana, avevano arricchito con la loro opera il repertorio orchestrale, cameristico e solistico per arpa. Chiude la track-list il Tempo di Mazurka del calabrese Giovanni Frojo, già autore di molteplici lavori didattici e di una moltitudine di brani solistici in cui prevale lo stile salottiero e spesso a soggetto.

 

REMEMBRANCES OF NAPLES, The harp at the Conservatorio S. Pietro a Majella between 1800 and 1900.

 

Landed in southern Italy in ancient times, the harp has always been appreciated by Neapolitan musicians, singers and poets. In its long history, Naples welcomed scholars of all nationalities, faiths and backgrounds; it was an open city, a melting pot of cultures, even opposite cultures, as the plebeian and the robed ones, which still coexist harmoniously, inextricably bonding with each other.
Even the harp did not escape this exercise and soon became a valuable instrument in various contexts, from the sacred to the profane, from the educated to the ordinary people.
In  the XVI century it was confirmed as the main instrument to accompany (sometimes even in the street) the Villanella, a form of secular music which was “ancestress” of the Neapolitan song but also favored by prominent authors such as Orlando Di Lasso and Adrian Willaert.  The emblematic figure of one of the greatest virtuosos came to the fore with Villanella : Giovanni Leonardo Mollica called dell’ Arpa (1520-1602) whose mastery was celebrated by the greatest poets of his time.
Invited by several Italian courts, Giovanni Leonardo always remained attached to his land, where he was the leader of a large group of talented students,  protagonists of the history of the harp in Italy for at least another century.
At the end of 1600 it is also important to mention a truly original migration that will persist until the early 1900s ; in fact, the figure of  the wandering harpist is emerging : he has humble origins but he will take to the European and American streets and squares a repertoire ranging from folk tradition to the educated one, adapted to the portable harp.

The great popularity the harp enjoyed in the Kingdom of Naples was tangible, both in private cultural circles, and in the choirs of the Viceroy, of the Cathedral and in the highest musical institutions, such as the Oratory of St. Filippo Neri (founded in 1586) and the Conservatorio of the Pietà dei Turchini (founded in 1573 and converted into an academy of music in 1622).
Four orphanages, founded in the sixteenth century as charity institutions that housed and cared for orphans or poors, Pietà dei Turchini included, later became academies of music and, thanks to them, that precious human heritage - acclaimed as the Neapolitan School and Opera Buffa, which “broke into” the most important European courts in the seventeenth and eighteenth century - was able to develop.
In these institutions, before as students and then as professionals, worked composers such as Domenico Cimarosa, Francesco Durante, Niccolò Jommelli, Alessandro Scarlatti (also a harpist), Giovan Battista Pergolesi and Giovanni Paisiello, who used the harp in solo compositions, as well as basso continuo in their works.
In 1807, because of ups and downs, the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini, includes other city musical institutions and is transformed into the Royal College of Music, until, in 1826, Francis I of Bourbon orders to transfer it to the place where it still is, the ancient monastery founded by Celestine V, the hermit on the Majella.
Boasting a wealth of books unique in the world, full of autographic manuscripts, rare prints, and opera librettos; boasting a unique musical circuit for the south of Italy, with four operating theatres, a myriad of subsidiary activities as several dozens of publishing houses, violin-making workshops - there were also producers of ropes and manufacturers of harps - the Royal Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella became one of the major musical institutions of western music.
A lot of scholars, a lot of aspiring musicians - looking for good study and a vibrant cultural environment in which to compare and measure professionally - converged to Naples.

It is in this context that the Neapolitan school of double move pedal harp begins (the instrument is still in use today), thanks to Filippo Scotti (Naples 1790-1868 Naples), former lead harpist of the Teatro San Carlo and, presumably, the first teacher of harp at the Conservatorio.

 

Among his many students, brilliant performers and teachers stand out, applauded far beyond national borders, including : Michele Albano (Naples 1813 - 1889) lead harpist of the Teatro San Carlo and then performer who went to Argentina where he lived and worked; Francesco Bellota (Palermo 1834-1907 Palermo),who founded the school of harp of the Conservatory of Palermo and was a good composer and teacher; Sodero Francesco (19th century) ; Sebastiano Caramiello (Naples 1847-1903 Naples), harpist at the Imperial Court of Russia; Alfonso Scotti (Naples 1805-1889 Naples), harpist and composer who succeeded his father Filippo in 1865; Felice Lebano (Naples 1867-1916 Buenos Aires) internationally acclaimed as concert performer; he gave birth to the modern school of harp in Argentina and he held the chair of  Naples from 1880 to 1886 ; Giovanni Caramiello (Naples 1838-1938 Resina, Naples) Sebastiano’s brother, concert performer and composer, substituted Felice Lebano in 1886 and remained in service until 1915.

During this period, the production for harp is enriched both with teaching material and with solo and chamber music repertoire which, according to the trend of the time, draws its inspiration from the opera arias which audiences prefer. This trend is also widespread on a national scale in the music for harp, but in Naples it adds a significant presence of the Neapolitan school of opera composers and, above all, of ancient popular themes or of the songs in vogue.
We should not overlook the fact that, in the nineteenth century, Neapolitan song was heading to the heyday and to a spread on an international scale, thanks to the contribution of important members of the culture, thus ceasing to be only a folk curiosity.

 

Remembrance of Naples, Fantasy for harp about popular themes, op. 6 by Giovanni Caramiello, is based on the themes of famous Fenesta ca lucive and Santa Lucia. Less known, but not less interesting, are the six folk melodies collected in The Serenades of Vesuvius, transcribed and varied in the form of studies op. 12, where Caramiello also shows a possible use in a teching context.
The two authors Michele Albano and Ferdinando Bonamici - (Naples 1827-1905), pianist and composer as well as deputy director of the San Pietro a Majella – choose the opera field. The first one chooses the music of Mascagni, fully adapting the lovely Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana with only one  variation; while the second author, in the Romance of Othello varied for harp op. 38, uses the touching romance Assisa a’ piè d’un salice, in the original version of which, we have a long solo that Rossini assigns to the harp, introducing the sad prayer of the willow. This passage presents bravura variations to which the performer, Sara Simari, added an original cadence.
The above-mentioned Felice, called Felix, Lebano chooses, on the contrary, to engage in a more cosmopolitan composition, thus responding to the calls of Iberian exoticism, in his Sérénade Andalousienne, concert piece and true 'big number' of the author performer.

As  Bonamici, the composer Niccolò van Westerhout (Mola di Bari 1857-1898 Naples), together with Alessandro Longo (Amantea - Cosenza 1864-1945 Naples) and Giovanni Frojo (Catanzaro 1847-1925 Catanzaro), represent only a fraction of the many artists who, thanks to the encouragement of the prestigious Neapolitan school, had enriched their works with the orchestral, chamber and solo repertoire for harp.
Niccolò van Westerhout probably wrote Canzonetta in the last years of his life, in the period during which he was teaching harmony in the Royal Conservatory and he used to send  short pieces to the publisher Ricordi.
Alessandro Longo - the author who most differs from the others for his originality of compositional style and sensibility towards the great European instrumental music - was a pianist, a teacher, a critic, a reviewer of classical music (he recovered the monumental work of the sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti) and also an animator of musical life : he is certainly to be considered one of the most representative figures of the Neapolitan music school. He wrote several pieces for harp, probably also inspired by the figure of Felix Lebano, whose talent he had enthusiastically appreciated on several occasions.

The Serenade No 6, op. 51 is included in the collection of Six Pieces op.51 dedicated to young female pupils, presumably harpists.

The Calabrian Giovanni Frojo is indicated by biographers as a pianist, composer and musicologist;  however, analyzing his production, one can not remain perplexed by works (several daily studies, studies for beginners and methods) that only a skilful teacher of the instrument can conceive . You can reasonably think that Frojo was also a harpist, at least for a period of his life, or that he has written these works on a commission basis. He also wrote the book  Origins and development of the harp (1887), together with a multitude of short solo pieces, as Tempo di Mazurka, where the drawing-room style and often “a soggetto” style prevail.

 

Remembrances of Naples is the emblematic title adopted for this recording project that wants to pay homage to a historical heritage and bring to light a musical repertoire full of stories of men and artists “children” of their times.

Sara Simari