GRAMOPHONE AWARDS SHORTLIST 2018
‘Agitata’ Brevi O spiritus angelici Caldara Passione di Gesù Cristo Signor Nostro – Sinfonia Gregori Concerto grosso, Op 2 No 2 Jommelli La Betulia liberata – Prigionier che fa ritorno Porpora In procella sine stella Stradella Et egressus est Torelli Lumi dolenti lumi Vivaldi Juditha triumphans – Agitata infido flatu Delphine Galou contr Accademia Bizantina / Ottavio Dantone hpd Alpha F ALPHA371 (63’ • DDD • T/t)
This is a treasure trove of rare music, much of which must surely be receiving first recordings. Baroque opera has increasingly become an accepted part of the scene in recent years, with forgotten bigname composers such as Caldara, Jommelli and Porpora emerging into the light both in complete works and in individual singers’ recital discs, yet much of the sacred music of these same composers and others still languishes in obscurity. This release, a first recital disc for the French contralto Delphine Galou following some accomplished contributions to Vivaldi operas, addresses the issue by focusing entirely on sacred repertoire, with results both fascinating and revealing. Who, for instance, has ever heard a vocal piece by Torelli? Here we have his Lumi dolente lumi, a Passion Friday cantata that interleaves two powerful recitatives with a pair of expertly shaped and contrasted arias. Who before has encountered the fast-living (and dying) Stradella’s ardently austere setting of lines from the Lamentations (here with Galou chillingly heading each section by barely breathing its Hebrew index letter)? And who knows Giovanni Battista Brevi, whose motet O spiritus angelici enjoys the free-ranging declamatory vigour of the late 17th century? As contrast to that we also have a sizzling aria from Vivaldi’s oratorio Juditha triumphans, plus two glorious examples of mid-18th-century vocal polish in a complacent aria from Jommelli’s oratorio La Betulia liberata and a wonderful display of virtuoso and assured writing for voice in Porpora’s motet In procella sine stella.
Galou is a perfect singer to introduce us to this music, thanks to an agile and comfortable technique (hear the way she sails effortlessly through her full compass in a single phrase in the first aria of the Porpora), and a voice that sounds like a firm countertenor in the higher register and a contralto in warm strength of the lower reaches. The playing of the Accademia Bizantina – who add a concerto grosso by Gregori and a sinfonia by Caldara to the mix – is keen as mustard and filled with typically telling detail by director Ottavio Dantone. A lovely disc of discoveries. Lindsay Kemp (1/18)
‘Carnevale 1729’ Albinoni Filandro – Fior ch’a spuntar si vede; Il tuo core in dono accetto Giacomelli Gianguir – Mi par sentir la bella; Vanne, si, di al mio diletto Leo Catone in Utica – Ombra cara, ombra adorata; Soffre talor del vento Orlandini Adelaide – Non sempre invendicata; O, del mio caro sposo … Quanto bello agl’occhi miei; Scherza in mar la navicella; Vedrò più liete e belle Porpora Semiramide riconosciuta – Bel piacer saria d’un core; Il pastor, se torna aprile; In braccio a mille furie Vinci L’abbandono di Armida – Nave altera che in mezzo all’onde Ann Hallenberg mez Il Pomo d’Oro / Stefano Montanari vn Pentatone F b Í PTC5186 678 (130’ • DDD) Includes texts and translations
Ann Hallenberg’s inquisitive forays researched in partnership with her musicologist husband Holger SchmidtHallenberg are never merely run-of-the-mill recitals – as has been proved by genuinely rare ‘Hidden Handel’ (Naïve), portraits of different ancient Roman Agrippinas (DHM, 7/15) and a live concert recording of mostly music for Farinelli (Aparté). This new double album is a judicious assortment from seven operas all performed in Venice during the eight-week carnival period between December 26, 1728, and February 27, 1729.
At least some of these productions at different theatres caught the eye (and ear) of Handel, based in La Serenissima while hunting around Italy for new singers. His erstwhile diva Faustina and castrato Senesino played the principal parts in
Orlandini’s Adelaide, and arias from each role might as well have been tailor-made for Hallenberg’s pinpoint virtuosity and lyricism, communicative use of language, idiomatic embellishment, intelligently sculpted phrasing (limpid, gentle or turbulent as the music demands) and astute theatrical characterisation: time seems to stand still in Adelaide’s lament ‘Quanto bello agl’occhi miei’, sung sublimely over a sophisticated rolling string accompaniment, and the voice’s dialogue with violinistdirector Stefano Montanari is shaded elegantly in Ottone’s lyrical alla francese aria ‘Vedrò più liete e belle’.
Sweetly tender solo oboe and pizzicato strings are judged beautifully in ‘Mi par sentir la bella’ from Giacommeli’s Gianguir, and there is zestiness in two quick arias from Albinoni’s Filandro. From Porpora’s Semiramide riconosciuta there are several fine arias: the gracefully lilting siciliano ‘Il pastor, se torna aprile’, the cantabile intimacy of ‘Bel piacer saria d’un core’ (for Farinelli making his Venetian debut), and the furious ‘In braccio a mille furie’ (the only aria recorded before – notably by Hallenberg herself). Perhaps the eligible 1729 repertoire might have yielded some greater variety of instrumentation and dramatic moods, but such reservations evaporate at the sheer classiness of Hallenberg and Il Pomo d’Oro’s perfectly aligned dulcetness in ‘Ombra cara, ombra adorata’, sung by the grieving widow of Pompey in Leo’s Catone in Utica, and the barnstorming climax of Vinci’s sizzling ‘Nave altera che in mezzo all’onde’, used in the pasticcio L’abbandono di Armida. David Vickers (A/17)
‘Espoir’ Auber Le lac des fées – Ils s’éloignent! je reste Berlioz Benvenuto Cellini – Seul pour lutter Donizetti Dom Sébastien – Seul sur la terre. La favorite – La maîtresse du Roi. Lucia di Lammermoor – Tombe degli avi miei. Rosmonda d’Inghilterra – Dopo i lauri di vittoria Halévy Guido et Ginévra – Dans ces lieux; Tu seras donc pour moia. La reine de Chypre – De mes aïeux ombres sacrées Rossini Otello – Venise, ô ma patrie Verdi Jerusalem – L’infamie! prenez ma vie! Michael Spyres ten aJoyce El-Khoury sop Hallé Orchestra / Carlo Rizzi Opera Rara F ORR251 (78’ • DDD • T/t)
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GRAMOPHONE SHORTLIST 2018 37