Rauzzini : Old Oliver, or The Dying Shepherd : Printable cover page
Composer: Venanzio Rauzzini (1746 - 1810)
Lyrics: Peter Pindar
Sung at the Bath concerts by John Braham. This cantata is, frankly, a puzzle. Peter Pindar (John Wolcot) was an author of incisive satire and, by repute, the highest earning writer of his times. Rauzzini must have encountered the interest in the dignity of the labouring man developed in his later years by Thomas Gainsborough, and copied by his ardent imitator, Thomas Barker of Bath. The latter's portrait of Charlie Kelston, woodcutter, was lauded by Rauzzini's house-guest Joseph Haydn (who bought multiple copies) as the most faithful depiction of the hardships of working life for fifty years. How then could this partnership produce a work so mawkish, in which the listener is invited to eavesdrop the ancient's dying expirations in A major, one of the brightest keys? Perhaps the piece is intended as parodied over-sentimentality, in which case it has not worn well.
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