Search - Antonio Caldara, Giovanni Bononcini, Francesco Gasparini :: Ditte Andersen & Ann Hellenberg - Mia vita mio bene

Ditte Andersen & Ann Hellenberg - Mia vita mio bene
Antonio Caldara, Giovanni Bononcini, Francesco Gasparini
Ditte Andersen & Ann Hellenberg - Mia vita mio bene
Genres: Pop, Classical


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The Music is as Luscious as the Cover
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 03/18/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A wonderful compilation of 17th C baroque arias and cantatas, some solo, some duet, sung by two of the most skilled baroque-niks on the musical stage today and accompanied by "Lautten Compagney", a period-instrument ensemble based in Berlin. Of the composers, the best known are Antonio Caldara and the Bononcini brothers. Predictably, it's the 'operatic' cantata "Nigella e Tirsi" by Caldara, featuring both singers, that highlights the program. Still, the other composers included -- Gasparini, Alveri, Orlandini, Ariosti, Porta, and Gaffi -- were all masters of the baroque idiom and the works performed on this CD are full of sparkle and charm.

The Lautten Compagney has expanded itself for this recording; besides the usual complement of strings and keyboard, it features some highly skilled wind players here: flute, oboe, two bassoons, two trombones, and a chalumeau, that ancestral clarinet which seldom sounds as promising as one hopes. On this CD, the first track, by Francesco Gasparini, is an instrumental aria featuring the chalumeau in lieu of the human voice; wonder of wonders, it sounds wonderful! Tirsi's aria from the Caldara cantata, sung gloriously by mezzo Ann Hallenberg, features the pair of 17th C bassoons in an obbligato counterpoint that is immensely fun to play and to hear. The bassoons get other opportunities to prove their worth in several compositions. I suspect you'll be impressed by the 'vocal' quality they achieve. Of the several CDs performed by Lautten Compagney that I've heard, this is easily the most successful and enjoyable.

However, lest you think I only praise and never criticize 'historically informed' performances, I do have two very minor concerns about this CD. One is the 'imbalance' of skill between the two singers. Soprano Ditte Anderson is good - very good - but mezzo Ann Hallenberg outshines her both in loveliness of timbre and in technical mastery of ornamentation and 'passagi'. The other concern is with the two-trombone accompaniment of the concluding duet of the Caldara cantata. (The cantata is a marvelous piece of music, mind you!) The historical 17th C trombone (sackbutt) and its playing technique have not been as thoroughly recovered as that of some other instruments. The trombones used here 'look' like 17th C instruments, and have the dimensions roughly of 17th C instruments, but they were not fabricated in the same manner. On this CD, tenor trombones are played, in their lower register. One can hear the slides working hard. Honestly, one shouldn't hear those slides so obviously. These passages should have been played on trombones a fourth or fifth lower - effectively bass trombones - playing in their upper register and thus sounding less 'bullocky'. Most professional performers on 'early' trombones developed their "chops" on modern trombone, while I strongly suspect that baroque trombonists were converted trumpeters. But, as I said before, this is a minor concern, a "nit" I had to pick, which should not in any way diminish your enjoyment of such a brilliant recording."