More Gems from Turin's Vivaldi Treasures
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 09/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is another in the ongoing series of recordings of Vivaldi's music found in manuscripts that reside in the Biblioteca Nazionale of Turin. The project apparently hopes to record all of the treasures held therein. The music here comes from a collection of 47 arias composed by Vivaldi between 1717 and 1721 for various of his operas. According to the scholarly booklet notes, 'Some are drafts, variants or simply copies of pieces that also feature in the scores of complete operas [by Vivaldi] conserved in Turin.' The musicians involved here are the wonderful baroque group Modo Antiquo, directed by Federico Maria Sardelli, and four vocal soloists: Sandrine Piau, soprano; Ann Hallenberg, mezzo; Paul Agnew, tenor; and Guillemette Laurens, mezzo. They are all fine singers, but this is Piau's show. This wonderful soprano, known to us primarily for her work with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, sings in six of the sixteen arias and ensembles contained here. Most astonishing is the Nightingale Aria 'Usignoli che piangete' from 'Candace.' In it she imitates the song of the nightingale, complete with eerily effective rapid-fire repeated notes in alt. Another 'bird' song, also sung by Piau, is 'Quell'augellin' that pits an ornithological violin solo (played brilliantly by Modo Antiquo's unnamed concertmaster) against the soprano's fioriture.
The other soloists have their day in the sun. Paul Agnew, a familiar voice in baroque recordings, sings the graceful shepherd's plaint 'Sei tiranna se un ben fedel' from 'La Silva.' Ann Hallenberg's rich mezzo is heard to great advantage in 'Se fido revedrò' from the little that remains of Vivaldi's 'Medea e Giasone'; in it, Medea is disguised as a man, looking for her unfaithful lover, Jason, declaring her fidelity to him and the joy she will feel if she finds him. The other mezzo (actually a contralto), Guillemette Laurens is heard only in the quartet 'Anima del cor mio' from 'La Candace' and in two duets.
This is a rewarding collection of arias and ensembles, some of them familiar, most of them not. But they are all vintage Vivaldi. Sound is lifelike, with voices slightly to the fore.