Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Antonio Vivaldi, Fabio Biondi, Europa Galante|
Vivaldi - Bajazet / D'Arcangelo, Daniels, Ciofi, Genaux, Mijanovic, Garanca, Europa Galante, Biondi [Includes Bonus DVD]
This stunner of an opera involves the proud sultan Bajazet (bass) and his battle with his bloodthirsty rival-tyrant Tamerlane (counter-tenor). More than 50 operas were composed on the subject. Here Vivaldi has composed all... more »
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This stunner of an opera involves the proud sultan Bajazet (bass) and his battle with his bloodthirsty rival-tyrant Tamerlane (counter-tenor). More than 50 operas were composed on the subject. Here Vivaldi has composed all the recitatives and marvelous arias for the dignified, fine characters and used arias by other composers--Hasse, Giacomelli, Carlo Broschi--for Tamerlano and the nasties. The music is energetic and virtuosic throughout. Fabio Biondi leads Europa Galante and soloists with urgent, theatrical precision, making the story come to life. The singing could not be better: Ildebrando d'Arcangelo is a remarkably sympathetic Bajazet, singing with fluency and power; David Daniels amazes as Tamerlano; Marijana Mijanovic sings the role of Asteria (Bajazet's daughter) with love and precision; and Viveca Genaux dazzles with her perfect coloratura as Irene. This is a treasure trove of singing, and a bonus DVD allows us to see/hear the performers in rehearsal. Highly recommended. --Robert Levine
Paul Van de Water | Virginia, USA | 06/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan of Vivica Genaux or David Daniels, or if you're a devote of Handel's operas, you'll love Bajazet. In fact, it's based on the same libretto as Handel's Tamerlano (although the texts of the arias appear to be different). Up to now, I've never found Vivaldi's operas very appealing. Even conductor Fabio Biondi calls many of them "boring." (Gramophone, May 2005) In contrast, Biondi terms Bajazet Vivaldi's "best opera score." I bought Bajazet on impulse after hearing a portion of it being played in a local music store and have been absolutely captivated. It's full of baroque vocal pyrotechnics, beautifully performed by singers and instrumentalists alike. Although it all sounds effortless on the CDs, the accompanying DVD gives one a feel for the skill required. The opening three-movement sinfonia is also top-notch Vivaldi. If you're at all tempted to buy this album, don't resist."
One Bajazet to Rule Them All
Akimon Azuki | 09/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a Bajazet to end all Bajazets and Tamerlanes. The score is first class- Vivaldi wrote some of his most inspired and beautiful music for this one and then wisely borrowed several great pieces from Broschi and others. The story is garbled garbage, but it serves the glorious music just perfect. The orchestra playing has spectacular urgency and flow and all of this is served in a recording of amazing quality- the sound engineers deserve a heap of golden sun medals.
The vocal superstars of this recording fire on all cylinders- there's enough energy in the fast arias to power up a small city, while the slow ones are just as intense.
The standouts? Hard to pick any, everything is that good, but my favourite at the moment is Garanca's Non ho nel sen costanza; Arcangelo's Dove la figlia and Genaux' Qual guerriero are the most vibrant. Vivica outdoes herself in this aria's ornamentations- the writing is already so dense, it seems impossible to actually put any extra notes in there, yet she does that and how! And all this while taking it at even greater speed that she did on her Arias for Farinelli album and with laser point accuracy.
I really did not expect such operatic splendor from Biondi. So far I only associated him with instrumental music, including a horrible rendition of Four Seasons, which I got to know from a most campy music video I saw on TV- it featured a fair maiden in a flowing romantic cloak trashing around a forest, no less- but if Bajazet is a sign of things to come, Biondi and the gang should quit all other gigs and stick to doing as many Baroque operas as possible.
Last but not least the fabulous DVD that comes with this release shows the artists hard at work but definitely enjoying themselves immensely in the process; it seems that the arias are not recorded in one take, given that Daniels appears in several different t-shirts in one video, but it's great to see the whole shapely group- Ildebrando looking most fit- going through the workout of some of the more acrobatic pieces. Ciofi does a great face in her video and if we ever had an Oscar for Best Snarl While Doing Impossible Runs, Vivica Genaux would be it.
Five stars and counting- best record of the year so far!"
You will never tire of this recording- the Best of 2005
cherubino | Houston, Texas United States | 09/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have read some frivolous carping regarding this fine, spendid recording. So what if the plot is garbage? We're talking about two CDs full of some the most ornate and varied baroque arias that you can ever hope to hear. If Vivaldi misses some of the counterpoint that works so well for Handel, Bajazet does not suffer for wont of it. If you don't like what you see on the bonus DVD, well, hey, they threw it in for free. If nothing else, it answers the essential question of how Vivica Genaux is able to sing Qual Guerriero di Campo Armato.
Being a pasticcio (pastiche) opera, we are treated to a stunning array of arias, that are lightening fast, slow and stately, pensive, jubilant, and in all cases opulent. Very few operas of this period can boast of such wealth of fine music that each character gets to sing at least two or three first-rate arias!
As glorious as the music is, Virgin Classics ups the ante by assembling one of the finest ensembles in recorded operatic history, in my opinion. What is most notable is that David Daniels is the sole countertenor, while there are three sizzling mezzos- Genaux, Marjanovic, and Garancia (forgive me if I misspelled the last two names). Genaux gets to sing the most ornate and dizzying aria of the whole opera, and thus top billing, but the other two mezzos hold their own. Marjanovic is a force to be reckoned with. She goes for broke, and proves that the has the goods to do so. The final aria of the first disc is an example of her powerful voice and technique. However, she also sings the most intimate and elegaic aria, La Cervetta Timidetta. I was and am spellbound by this aria, which is wonderfully restrained and heart-rendering. Garancia has a voice that is very harmonious, and a possesses a clean technique. Her bottom register will only grow richer as her voice ripens and matures. Her technique is best featured on Spesso, Tra Vaghe Rose. For someone so young, she exhibits fine discipline and taste in her singing.
The other lady of the set, Patrizia Ciofi, is another strong asset. One reviewer wrote that she isn't given much to do here. Idapse does have less music to sing, but Ciofi doesn't let that deter her. Nascia Rosa Lusinghiera is a gem- her voice scintillates, and one pictures a rose in full bloom, with droplets of fresh dew. Drew Minter, a countertenor who writes reviews for Opera News, stated that she sounds covered at time. Perhaps so, but she is dazzling nonetheless. Anche Il Mar Par Che Sommerga is one of the very best arias of the whole opera, and Ciofi does it justice. Listen to her rapid passagework, that is never bumpy or throaty. It will bring a smile to your face. As a final word, this aria was first recorded by Cecilia Bartoli, on her Vivaldi album. Believe me, Bartoli has nothing on Ciofi, at least in this particular case. Bartoli's treatment is too menacing and throaty.
David Daniels is a singer that I don't always admire. On some recordings, his middle voice sounds muddled, and his coloratura technique suspect. As Rinaldo, he sings Cara Sposa well, but can't quite get his hands on Venti Turbidi. Thankfully, Vivaldi's Tamerlano is well within his grasp, and he sings each aria wonderfully. He is widely praised for his interpretative ability and gift for turning a phrase. Cruda Sorte is a prime example, blinding in intensity. I can't imagine any other countertenor usurping Daniels here. The aria with the most bravura is Barbaro Traditor, and Daniels never lets the quicker tempo faze him.
Finally, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo is not only fine to look at, but a fine singer. There is nothing about his voice or technique that I don't like. He suits the role well. His first aria is my favorite, but Dov'e La Figlia is also enthralling.
Finally, hats off to Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante. The sounds is also clear, fresh, and tasteful."