Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Alessandro Scarlatti, René Jacobs, Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin|
A. Scarlatti - Il primo omicidio overo Cain / B. Fink · Oddone · Röschmann · R. Croft · Abete · Jacobs
This oratorio for six voices concerns, as the title implies, the murder of Abel by Cain. Though the possibility of one Baroque da capo aria after another may strike fear into your heart, fear not: Scarlatti sprinkles arias... more »
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This oratorio for six voices concerns, as the title implies, the murder of Abel by Cain. Though the possibility of one Baroque da capo aria after another may strike fear into your heart, fear not: Scarlatti sprinkles arias throughout, interspersing them with dramatic recitatives, duets, a trio, and brief, scene-setting orchestral interludes with a small but colorfully used group of instruments, all beautifully played here. Moreover, the voice parts vary: Adam and Eve are tenor and soprano, respectively; Cain and Abel are alto and soprano; and the voice of God and Lucifer are countertenor and bass. For a two-and-a-quarter hour oratorio from 1707, this work never tires the ear or emotions: A nice listening experience, all the way round. --Robert Levine
Long overdue recording of a masterpiece
Joseph A. Newsome | Burlington, NC United States | 05/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Written before Handel's "Messiah" or Bach's Passions, Scarlatti's "Il Primo Omicidio" is the prototype of the Baroque oratorio. The music contains genuine depth of emotion, and this performance does full justice to Scarlatti's innovation. With a life-time of experience in Baroque music, conductor Rene Jacobs leads the playing forces with admirable understanding of the score. It is also a pleasure to hear him sing the role of God. His counter-tenor voice still retains those qualities of beauty and attention to "proper" performance practice that made him the counter-tenor paragon of the 1970's. The cast is, in short, extraordinary. Dorothea Roschmann, Bernarda Fink, and Graciela Oddone are all technically accomplished, and they bring rich interpretations to their beautiful arias. As Adam, tenor Richard Croft admirably fulfills his role as ambassador of a supremely musical family (his brother is wonderful baritone Richard Croft). Antonio Abete, as the voice of Lucifer, exhibits the sort of bass voice often utilized in Baroque recordings: dark, emotive, and even if not powerful or memorable. This recording should bring much pleasure to lovers of Baroque music or singing."
Good, but There Are Better
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 03/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The weakness of Il Primo Omicidio is the Voice of God, sung by Rene Jacobs himself. Jacobs is a countertenor, a revered pioneer of the technique, but he is no longer an outstanding countertenor, especially in comparison with younger voices such as Gerard Lesne. Casting himself as God exposes the thinness of his voice all too clearly, especially since he has cast two operatic women singers as Cain and Abel. They overwhelm him musically, an effect compounded by the fact that the arias assigned to God contain the least interesting music of the whole oratorio. Antonio Abete, the bass singing the role of Lucifer, also outmatches Jacobs's God in power and drama, again exaggerated by the greater musical interest of his role.
Bernarda Fink and Graciela Oddone, as Cain and Abel, bring little subtlety to their roles until the second act, when the powerful emotions inscribed in the libretto finally overcome the conservatory vibrato of their first-act performances. Strange to say, considering Rene Jacobs's reputation, this whole performance is marred by a broad and stodgy vocal style more suggestive of the earliest decades of the Baroque revival than of contemporary historically informed performance practice.
Detaching the music from the performance is never easy, but I think this oratorio has more potential than Jacobs has revealed. Even so, it's a less interesting and affective score than La Santissima Trinita (recorded spectacularly by Europa Galante) or Sedecia Re di Gerusalleme (sung superbly by Lasne and Jaroussky with Il Seminario Musicale). I'd certainly recommend those two CD sets before this one.
The overt difference between the opera and the oratorio in Scarlatti's era was that operas narrated classical Greco-Roman stories, while oratorios portrayed Christian subjects. Scarlatti's oratorios have an implicit pedagogical intent. The portrayal of Cain's murder of his brother Abel in Scarlatti's libretto expands the story well beyond the Biblical text, and concludes with Adam philosophizing about the death of his younger son at the hand of his elder: "Abel...had to die, the injustice was permitted by God so that as a mortal, I should recognize myself in him, he punished one to set an example to others." I have the distinct impression that Alessandro struggled with the theological implications of his libretto; at any rate, he hastens to conclude the oratorio with a Duo Allegrissimo expressing the joy of the bereaved parents at God's promise of a lineage for Adam."
Giordano Bruno | 01/14/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The sound quality of this recording is superb. The performance by all the singers is also extraordinary. I loved the whole work since the first moment. The orchestra produces a great baroque sound and the conductor / singer has read Scarlatti's mind in a very nice way."