Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Christoph Willibald Gluck, Bernhard Forck, Cecilia Bartoli|
Cecilia Bartoli - Gluck Italian Arias ~ Dreams & Fables
Genres: Blues, Classical
On this recording of eight unfamiliar arias by Gluck, Cecilia Bartoli once again demonstrates her peerless vocalism and communicative power. Using texts by Pietro Metastasio, the leading librettist of his day, from whose p... more »
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Amazon.com's Best of 2001
On this recording of eight unfamiliar arias by Gluck, Cecilia Bartoli once again demonstrates her peerless vocalism and communicative power. Using texts by Pietro Metastasio, the leading librettist of his day, from whose poetry the disc's title is taken, Gluck composed music of heartwarming and heartbreaking beauty. The arias encompass an infinite variety of style, mood, character, and expression, and Bartoli's mastery of them is complete. The sheer beauty of her voice and her consummately effortless coloratura are unique: endless cascading runs, ranging from below the staff to high D's and E-flat's, flow out flawlessly placed and articulated, like strings of perfect, shining pearls. But what makes her singing so fascinating and unforgettable is Bartoli's ability to color and change her voice to fit the music, going in an instant from lighthearted parody to tempestuous fury, half-mad desperation, and lamentatious pleading. Equally captivating is her ability to create real characters by purely vocal means. The pyrotechnics are stunning, the fiery outbursts thrilling, but it is the slow, lyrical, inward arias that are most moving and memorable. She can spin out a long melody like a golden thread, with a focused, centered sound and a concentrated intensity of expression that cast an irresistible spell over ear and heart. Most of these arias are in da capo form, but she ornaments the repeats freely and imaginatively without becoming excessive. The Berlin Academy for Ancient Music, playing on period instruments tuned to a low A, supports her with a wonderfully clear, transparent sound and great stylistic empathy. --Edith Eisler
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thomas_straw | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 10/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is arguably an even greater achievement than Ms Bartoli's Vivaldi Album. The Amazon reviewer's assessment is correct in that the best passages are not necessarily those that demonstrate the greatest "technical" virtuosity (though that is plainly evident in Ms Bartoli's typically amazing coloratura runs). Rather, some of the more restrained and plaintiff passages--particularly in the 11-minute "Se mai senti spirarti sul volto" (La Clemenza di Toto)--achieve precisely what Gluck and Metastasio aim to achieve: that is, a sublime, "equal-footed" marriage between poetry and music. No matter her technical merits in the area of range, trill, vibrato, etc., Ms Bartoli is at her best, in my opinion, when tackling more deliberate, contemplative vocal passages (rather than fast, nervous "runs"--think "Amarilli" from Live In Italy, which reduces me to a puddle every time). In such a context, Ms Bartoli's voice imbues the music she sings with a warm, amber quality, and the characters she plays with an extra poignancy. A great CD--and a delightful introduction to Gluck, who up to now was a relative unknown to me."
Tom Williams | Redondo Beach, Ca. | 03/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cecilia Bartoli haws been my favorite (mezzo? soprano? singer!) for years now so it didn't surprise anyone who knows me that I got this CD as soon as it was released and play at least some of it nearly every day. What was a surprise was the fact that so many of my non-opera-loving friends now own this.
Gluck is treated here to a thoughtful, vivacious, and totally wondrous revival of some of his too-long-neglected works...(something the world experienced previously with Cecilia's "Vivaldi Album") and, as usual, the performances are imbued with a spirit and depth which only an artist of Bartoli's talent can achieve.
From the opening trumpets on "Tremo, fra dubbi miei" to the consummate beauty of voice in the closing aria, " Berenice, che fa?" Bartoli and The Akademie fur Ault Musik take us on a journey through some of the most beautiful music (and poetry) any of us is likely to hear.
In a year with some excellent vocal recordings, Bartoli was awarded her second consecutive Grammy for this effort. And just like last year, the voters hit the mark. So does Cecilia."
Long lost music brilliantly performed by Bartoli!
Kicek&Brys | USA/UK | 01/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We have been visiting this page ever since the recording was released, expecting to find a flood of enthusiastic reviews. The CD seems to sell very well though and that's what really matters, but the relative silence of reviewers is surprising. One of the reasons behind it may be the simple fact that Bartoli's new disc is really difficult to write about. Yes, it is beautifully produced, with the booklet richly illustrated and filled with fantastic liner notes (really WORTH reading along with the arias!) by Bartoli's boyfriend and collaborator Claudio Osele. And yes, it is gorgeously sung and equally gorgeously played (an improvement since the Vivaldi disc where the orchestral accompaniment was too rough). But how to describe the music, especially when so much of it hasn't been performed since the 18th century and it is impossible to refer the potential buyer to existing recordings, however obscure. Of course, the Vivaldi disc posed the same problem, but there the composer's name - familiar to so many - combined with Bartoli's reputation guaranteed its success. Gluck never enjoyed this kind of popularity and even among real opera aficionados it is hard to find those who are familiar with his works except the ubiquitous "Orfeo ed Euridice". And yet, Gluck's place in the history of opera is much more important than Vivaldi's - he was the great reformer, the man who transformed Baroque opera into Classical. But perhaps this very quality of being a transitional figure, neither wholly Baroque nor wholly Classical (plus his cosmopolitanism - he was a Bohemian who wrote operas in Italian, French and German for most of the major European cities) has made him difficult to fit into any category. People tend to think of Classical opera as sounding like Mozart - Gluck's reform operas don't and so they mistake his deliberate simplicity for lack of skill. As for his early work before his reforms of the 1760s, this has been almost entirely forgotten - after all, the reasoning goes, if it needed reforming then there was clearly something badly wrong with it. This new CD proves how mistaken that judgment is. All the arias here are set to the words by Pietro Metastasio, the most successful librettist of the eighteenth century and perhaps of all time. His 27 different libretti were apparently set 800 times by 300 different composers, so eighteenth century audiences coming to an operatic premiere would often know the words by heart before they had heard a note of the new musical version. Many of those composers enjoyed only a brief fame, but some of Gluck's arias recorded here can be contrasted with rival settings by the greatest: Handel, Haydn and Mozart. Track 3 brings a marvellous recitativo followed by a da capo aria from Gluck's 1750 opera "Ezio". Handel set the same Metastasio text (slightly adapted) to music some 20 years earlier. The contrast between Handel's lilting, dancelike melody and Gluck's passionate rage is striking (audio sample 23 on CD2 ASIN #B000001KDX if you don't have the recording). The very title "Clemenza di Tito" immediately brings associations with the Mozart opera of the same name. Unfortunately, Mozart used an adapted text (by Mazzola) but it is still possible to compare the two works. A piece which Mozart set as a trio appears here as an 11 minute long aria, "Se mai sentirti spirar...". It is (literally) breathtaking, as life and hope slowly die away and Bartoli's performance is electrifying, time seems to stand still as she sings. The daring harmonies in this piece provoked immense controversy in its day. When his pupils told the famous Italian music teacher, Durante, that such unconventional music was obviously the work of a 'German donkey', he replied that no rules existed to justify such a combination of sounds but only a genius could have thought of it. This aria also shows one reason why Metastasio had such a strong appeal to musicians. Metastasio often wrote his texts around a single metaphor or simile (this one is based on the idea of 'breath), allowing composers the opportunity for vivid musical illustration. Anyone who has heard the Vivaldi Album might remember the two Metastasio arias there, with their metaphors of a storm at sea and of freezing winter. Here we also get arias based on the idea of Cupid's lyre, inspiring Gluck to a wonderfully rococo pizzicato accompaniment, and of a gentle stream gradually building to a great river ("Quel chiaro rio"). But human passions are also directly depicted - one of our very favorite tracks, "Berenice, che fai?"(#8), is a magnificent scene set to a superb text, that also inspired Haydn ("Scena di Berenice", Hob.XXIVa:10) and apparently Handel. Haydn's "Scena di Berenice", composed in 1795, is more classically controlled and not as intensely dramatic as Gluck's, but it is no less powerful. Those who are lucky to have Arleen Auger's delightful recital of Haydn's arias and cantatas (Decca/L'Oiseau Lyre 1990, nla) can hear it in her touching interpretation.What you won't hear on this CD is Gluck's most famous aria "Che faro senza Euridice". We heard so much about Cecilia's struggle with Decca over her refusal to record the aria, that it almost became a legend. Of course everybody would love to hear it but in a way, its absence is a symbol of the artist's personal victory (besides the aria's text is not by Metastasio) - she got it her way and she is to be congratulated for her faith in this little known but quite wonderful music. Those who fall in love with Gluck through this superb recital and would like to explore more, should start with Minkowski's recording of "Iphigenie en Tauride", one of the best recordings of any Classical opera. There, if you still hunt for comparisons, you can find Gluck's own reworking of the two last arias on this CD. Enjoy!"