Alessandro Stradella was, along with Henry Purcell and Heinrich von Biber, among the most striking and idiosyncratic composers of the late seventeenth century. He is known principally for his cantatas on sacred subjects such as "La Susanna" and "San Giovanni Battista," which prefigure Handel's oratorios, and from which Handel borrowed freely. Stradella's musical eccentricities were paralleled by his irregular life. A member of the minor nobility, he ran through his inheritance while young, and thereafter supplemented his musical earnings by questionable financial dealings that incurred the anger of influential families. These obliged him to flee Rome for Venice in 1677. At Venice he seduced the mistress of a patrician, who in consequence sent assassins after him. He fled again to Turin, then to Genoa, where he was finally klled in 1682. Responsibility for his murder has never been convincingly assigned. Stradella's life resembled a melodrama, and has indeed been made the subject of an opera by Flotow.
…So for most of us, just listening to the lively, polished performances by male and female singers, accompanied by various period instruments will be enjoyment enough–but for the more curious, the extensive and very well written liner notes offer a fine introduction to the deeper meaning of the texts and provide important context for each song. Four instrumental selections round out this flawlessly recorded program, enhanced by the ambience of the Spanish monastery venue.