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Saverio Mercadante
Critical edition by Francesco Bissoli

Within the extensive symphonic output of Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870), a pioneer in promoting the instrumental repertoire in an Italy dominated by opera, there are several works based on familiar Neapolitan traditional melodies. The Prima sinfonia caratteristica napoletana (1844-1845) deserves particular attention on account of the composer’s inventive way of elaborating the themes and his competent handling of the large orchestra, consisting of a piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, four bassoons, four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, ophicleide/serpent, timpani, violins, violas, cellos and double basses. The adjective ‘caratteristico’ underlines the use of extra-musical references, which in this case take the form of the quotation and elaboration of popular themes in each of the four sections that make up the symphony (including the well known Te voglio bene and Canzone di Zeza, È nata ‘na cantina ‘mmiezz o mare and La riccioluta).