"I bought this CD initially for one reason, to hear more from the stellar French counter-tenor, Philippe Jaroussky. I was introduced to his stunning voice with his spectacular recording, "Vivaldi: Virtuoso Cantatas." As expected, he lived up to my high expectations with his latest recording. There is no one in the music scene who sings with the beauty and flourish of this amazing young man.
This CD takes us on a musical tour of discovery through 30 years of Vivaldi's operatic output, which has been mostly unknown. This recording makes a strong argument that Vivaldi's operas deserve to come out of the shadows. Sixty-three minutes of this gorgeous music is not enough! Not surprisingly, many of the brilliant show piece arias were written for the reigning castrati of that time. We'll never know what their voices really sounded like, but Jaroussky is the one artist who makes us cease to wonder, and the only question we have is, did they sound half as good as he does?
Here are some brief notes on the tracks of this recording:
Track 1: A powerful, bravura colatura aria. A great introduction to newcomers to Jaroussky's talents. Track 2: A tender melody, it's simplicity enchants. Track 3: The unmistakable sounds of Vivaldi. A "Four Seasons" for male alto. Track 4: Gorgeous larghetto, reminiscent of some of Handel's best - who knew Vivaldi was such a great composer of opera arias! Tracks 5-6: Another show piece. Think the legendary castrato Senesino on steroids. Track 7: A sublime largo, a double concerto for alto and solo violin. Track 8: An incomparable "aria di tempesta" depicting a shipwreck being tossed from rock to rock. Jaroussky's voice rises above the waves like rays of golden light. Tracks 9-10: Vivaldi's foray into the traditional "sleep aria." Another bewitching aria given interesting treatment with an orchestration using recorders and oboes. Jaroussky's sustained notes are to die for, as are his brilliant runs and top notes in Track 11. Track 12: An emotionally tender lament, with one set of strings playing "arco" and another set providing "pizzicato" as Jaroussky's lovely alto floats above it all. Track 13: Another typical Vivaldi aria with vigorous rhythms, and Jaroussky displaying all his gifts. We can never have enough. Track 14: A lament written at the high point of Vivaldi's operatic career. One of his most atmospheric works for any instrument. Here Jaroussky shows he's more than a show man and has behind his voice powerful emotion that can tug one's heart. Track 15: A charming aria with the strings' "pizzicato" evoking the sound of bees and the beat of an impatient heart. With this final track Jaroussky leaves us in love and wanting more.
This recording is a must have for all fans of the male alto. I also recommend it to anyone who enjoys bravura colatura of any voice. I'm sure there will be many a soprano who'll say it's not fair that a man can sing like this!
I'm glad Philippe Jaroussky is introducing us to forgotten Vivaldi gems with his recent recordings. As beautiful as this treasure chest is, I can't help but wonder what rubies and emeralds he'll pull out when he turns to Handel. I hope we'll find out. In the meantime, I'm content to relish in the joy that happens when Jaroussky meets Vivaldi."
An etherial voice
VictoriaPB | Reston, VA | 10/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just recently discovered Jaroussky and and am beyond thrilled. I've never given countertenors much thought beyond an occasional Vivaldi opera but having these pulled together in one album changed it for me, all because of Philippe's incomparable voice and an upper registry clarity to make sopranos green with envy. In a matter of days, I've purchased several of his albums as gifts and found it funny that my two colleagues (with drastically different music tastes, one never having listened to opera before!) were listening to him with the same enthusiasm as I. Can not wait to hear more from him and hope that he'll tour in the MidAtlantic US soon."
One of two matching gems
Dino Starcevic Rivera | San Josť, Costa Rica | 03/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If there is any possibility of finding two pink pearls it is the pair of recordings of Philippe Jaroussky for Virgin Classics (The Story of a castrato/Vivaldi Heroes). Shining examples of the rare but alive art of countertenors, Jaroussky shows himself as a master, with such a refined singing that is possible to say that we have the best of countertenor: a superb singer with -thank God- not castration. I find difficult to review one CD without the other, so this is a double recommendation. Under conducting of Emmanuelle Haïm (The Story...) and Jean-Christophe Spinosi (Heroes), Jaroussky validates an extravagant and uncommon -in modern terms- singing. Pure gold."
Vivaldi Has Arrived ...
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 01/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No matter how much you may have relished (or detested) The Four Seasons and the Vivaldi Concerti for Sopranino Recorder, you haven't begun to appreciate the Red Priest until you've discovered his operas, at least 40 of which have survived in manageable scores. The "Naive" label has recently issued a box set of Vivaldi operas (search for Vivaldi Opera edition), many of them featuring the artistry of male soprano Philippe Jaroussky. Of course, a dozen of these performances have already been available separately, with many of the finest singers of baroque music featured, but this CD might well serve as an introduction for listeners who are not yet prepared to spend $260 or more for the box.
A thousand words might equal a picture, but no number of words can describe Jaroussky's singing. Luckily, there are MP3 samples for this CD. Even better, scores of Jarousky's fans have posted performances of his on youtube. I will paste a youtube address in a comment below, as soon as this review is available."
A voice to charm birds out of the trees!
A. Simpson | Sydney, NSW, Australia | 10/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mr Jaroussky has the voice of an angel with a maturity that defies his young age: and with the emotional intelligence to bring the arias into vivid relief. My hero remains the glorious Graham Pushee, but Jaroussky even now is moving in very fast on that mighty countertenor."