Stradella was murdered in Genoa when he was forty-two years old. Until then he enjoyed a dazzling career as a freelance composer, writing on commission, collaborating with distinguished poets, producing over three hundred works in a variety of genres. His musical style is distinctive, characterized by fluid lines, great skill in counterpoint, and harmony which was tonal but which occasionally offers chords that were unusual then and striking even today.
The oratorio San Giovanni Battista was written for performance on Palm Sunday in the Holy Year of 1675 where some fourteen oratorios were commissioned by the confraternity of the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome—an auspicious event. San Giovanni Battista is a deeply ‘Baroque’ score, vibrant, rhythmically insistent, requiring singers to perform phrases of difficult fiorituras or deeply moving legato lines. The libretto is dramatic and emotionally vivid, and the music is closely tied to the text, creating a distinctly operatic atmosphere—described by the disc’s conductor Alessandro De Marchi as ‘a true Salome’.
Corelli's older Roman contemporary, Alessandro Stradella, was held in high esteem both by his contemporaries and by later generations of composers. Among his patrons in Rome were the exiled Queen Christina of Sweden and the Colonna and Pamphili families. Stradella's amorous adventures, which eventually led to his murder in Genoa at the age of 37 subsequently gave rise to a novel, an opera by Flotow, a poem, a play and a song text. Though an outstanding oratorio composer he was considered in his own lifetime foremost as a composer for the theatre and his great gifts in this direction enabled him to treat the New Testament story of the imprisonment and murder of John the Baptist with considerable dramatic force.