Stile Galante baroque orchestra, conducted by Stefano Aresi, and Ann Hallenberg are going to record a new CD featuring original cadenzas from one of the most famous, celebrated and important castrato singers of Mozart's age. Ann Hallenberg - © Minjas Zugik 2013
After many years of painstaking reseach, Stefano Aresi has compiled the most extended collection ever found of original embellishments, da capos, cadenzas, variations connected to a single castrato's repertoire.
The castrato, whose name is yet to be announced, was one of the most famous, celebrated and important castrato singers of Mozart's age.
Ann and Stefano plan to produce a CD to showcase the sensational discoveries, and also to create a 50 minute documentary to describe in detail the significance of the haul of information they have gathered.
Click on this link to the project's gofundme
page to give what you can to this extraordinary endeavour, and check out teh video below.
Franco Fagioli and Il Pomo d’Oro took the Salle Gaveau by storm with a program based on their award winning album Arias for Caffarelli (Naïve). Franco Fagioli - countertenor
Fagioli’s first offering was “Passaggier che sulla sponda” from Porpora’s Semiramide riconosciuta. Moving effortlessly between soprano-tessitura falsetto and the modal voice, the Argentinian countertenor immediately impressed with scope of his range, and the willingness to bring out the lower passages by audaciously yet tastefully employing the full chest voice.
Fagioli’s excellent, well supported, and soaring legato was evident in Hasse’s “Ebbi da te la vita” from Siroe rè di Persia. In “Misero pargoletto” from Leo’s Demofoonte, Fagioli built and sustained the tension of the piece using understated dynamics and excellent breath control. In this, more than any other aria, the similarity with Bartoli was most evident.
The first half of the concert ended as it began with Semiramide riconosciuta, this time Vinci’s version. “In braccio a mille furie” is a sensational tour de force for both singer and orchestra: fast, furious, and relentless. Fagioli relished the demands of the piece, discharging A5’s and B5’s with unnerving ease. Herbert Walser and Andreas Lakner were superb in the brass accompaniment, and Riccardo Coelati on Double Bass did a fantastic job of impersonating the missing Timpani.
Franco Fagioli - countertenor
It always astounds me that one can recognise the power and intensity of Pergolesi from just the first few bars of an aria. Fagioli was mesmerising in the nearly 12-minute-long “Lieto così talvolta
” from Pergolesi’s Adriano in Siria
. The interaction with Riccardo Minasi on the violin (standing in for the Oboe) was sumptuous and seductive.
“Fra l’orror della tempesta
” from Hasse’s Siroe rè di Persia
is possibly one of the most stunning Baroque arias ever written. The piece is a virtuosic fanfare of vocal fireworks. Fagioli’s superior technique shines through with several exposed notes above the stave, drops into the modal voice, and many phrases running across the lower-middle falsetto voice all perfectly executed.
Fagioli ended the concert with the electric “Odo il suono di traomba guerriera
” from Manna’s Lucio Papirio dittatore
. Just one note away from a full three octaves, Fagioli pushes his range to the limit! His fully supported dive into the baritone register with a wonderful E3, his almost endless trill, and a blistering D6 all came together to earn him a rapturous applause.
As encores, Fagioli gave “Sperai vicino il lido
” from Leonardo Leo’s Demofoonte, and “Un cor che ben ama
” by Sarro. In the former, Fagioli alternates between languid phases and coruscating coloratura. The latter contains some fiendish writing for the trumpet. Fagioli sprinted through the sea of semiquavers with complete security, astounding given all he had already sung that evening. Between the two, it was announced that the CD Arias for Caffarelli (Naïve)
had been awarded a 'Choc de l'Année' from Classica magazine!
The accompaniment from Il Pomo d’Oro was excellent, as I have come to expect. We were treated to the Sinfonia
from Sarro’s Demofoonte
Sonata in D major, the Sonata in G min by Ragazzi,
and the Introduzione from Il Ciro riconosciuto
. Special mention must go to Riccardo Minasi for his excellent direction and fabulous violin playing.
Professor Gerald Pollack's new book, The Fourth Phase of Water, is an interesting, accessible and engrossing journey into the murky world of water science. His theories explain things as diverse as cloud formation and osmosis, interfacial water structure and the properties of wet sand. A must-read for anyone interested in the science of water.
Some time ago, I wrote about the interesting new theories from Professor Gerald Pollack regarding a fourth phase of water
, distinct from the usual solid (ice), liquid (water) and gaseous (vapour) phases.
This new phase, liquid crystalline water, has many fascinating properties, and goes a long way in explaining many of the anomalous properties of water, and of those things which contain a high percentage of water as a part of their make-up.
Pollack has now produced a book explaining, and elaborating on, these theories, called The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid and Vapour
Pollack's book goes a long way towards making this complex scientific field understandable to the interested layman, while still being a serious study of the conclusions drawn by Pollack and his Lab about the nature and properties of the proposed Liquid Crystalline phase of water.
After his historical preamble, Pollack starts the book with a very useful 'Bestiary': "A reader's guide to the species that lurk within the mysterious aqueous domain". The descriptions therein of the Hydronium Ion, EZ Water, the Hexagonal structure of Ice, and the nature of charge distribution in a bubble and a droplet, all give the reader basic yet vital information with which to proceed.
Pollack uses the first few chapters to clarify and expand on the ideas which he has developed through his lab and his talks up to the publication of this book: ideas such as Interfacial water (EZ water); the water battery; the charge separation that occurs between bulk and EZ water; and the structure of Liquid Crystalline water.
In later chapters, Pollack dives into some of the more interesting ideas, such as: how molecules with the same charge are attracted to each other, and how this can account for cloud formation and the different properties of wet and dry sand; how osmosis occurs; the properties of protonated water; how rocks can skim across the water surface; and the role of EZ water in the resolution of the Energy Paradox inherent in the formation of Ice crystals.
Now, I'm not going to ruin the fun of finding out what Pollack thinks about these things: you will have to buy the book for that. However, there is much information out there on the web if you want to learn more about the ideas in this fantastic book. It is definitely worth a read, whether as an interested or curious layman, or a serious science student with an open mind and an inquisitive nature.
The video below is from a recent TEDx talk about the Fourth Phase of Water given by Pollack. Check it out!
From the Nikolaisaal in the heart of Potsdam, Germany, we were treated to a fantastic concert with two giants of the Baroque music world: coloratura soprano Simone Kermes and contralto Sonia Prina.
The music focused on Handel and some of his rival composers: Porpora, Vivaldi, Pergolesi, and a fiery aria from Gluck. With a combined range of over three octaves (E6 from Kermes, and D3 from Prina) the evening was a virtuosic extravaganza: a truly memorable occasion.
We were presented with a delightful pair of slow, pensive arias. Sonia Prina’s hypnotic delivery of Vivaldi’s magnificent “Là, sull'eterna sponda” was the first aria of the evening. The superb phrasing and tender delivery captivated the Potsdam audience, while her cavernous G3 in the da capo rang out gloriously throughout the hall. Simone Kermes tantalised us with the beautiful “Alto Giove” by Porpora. She began with a tender messa di voce on the first vowel, which she swelled and diminished with admirable control, and her high pianissimo in the da capo was haunting.
Simone Kermes, Soprano
Sonia Prina, Contralto
Each of the soloists had three bravura arias. Sonia Prina’s first offering was “Quel vasto quel fiero” from Porpora’s Polifemo, where her speed and agility were highly impressive. Prina utterly dominated the fierce “Se fedele mi brama” from Gluck’s Ezio. She revelled in the low tessitura of the piece, the passages below the stave full of strength and power. Finally, Prina blew the audience away with her electric coloratura and commanding stage presence in Handel’s “Venti turbini”. Simone Kermes launched into Porpora’s “Vedrà turbato il mare” with complete abandon, leaping into the stratosphere with amazing security. Kermes powered through the ferocious “Empi se mai disciolgo” seemingly without stopping for breath, while she playfully vaulted above the stave in “Son qual nave in ria procella”.
The evening was dominated by a series of duets between the soprano and contralto. We were presented with two offerings from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. In “Stabat Mater dolorosa” Kermes and Prina sauntered through the sinuous suspensions with spine-tingling precision, their two distinct voices intertwining magically. “Fac, ut ardet cor meum” is much faster, much more vigorous. The combination of two of the Baroque music world’s best coloratura specialists made for an exciting rendition. Perhaps my favourite duet of the evening was Handel’s “Io t’abbraccio” from Rodelina. Prina and Kermes were completely in character, full of heartache and suffering: a truly stunning rendition of this devastating duet.
But is wasn’t all heartache and sorrow. By the time we came to the encores, we were into the territory of the Baroque love duet. The first encore was the ebullient “Scherzano sul tuo volto” from Handel’s Rinaldo. Kermes and Prina sang like a pair of young lovers, and ended the piece with a kiss! The second duet, “Caro! Bella!” from Giulio Cesare, saw Prina dive down to a marvellous D3 at the beginning of the da capo, the lowest note I have heard from her so far. Throughout the concert, the accompaniment by La Magnifica Comunità, under the direction of Enrico Casazza, was, as always, excellent.
The release of Catone in Utica marks the midway point in Naïve’s 25 year project: the Vivaldi Edition series. Ann Hallenberg, Sonia Prina, and other stars of the Baroque music world have been assembled under the baton of Alan Curtis, accompanied by Il Complesso Barocco.
Following on from the successes of La fida ninfa, Bajazet and Adelaide, Vivaldi produced this stunning opera as the finale to his time at the Teatro dell’Accademia Filarmonica. He assembled a diverse cast including a local tenor, Cesare Grandi, as Catone, the soprano castrato Giacomo Zaghini as Cesare, and Anna Girò, one of his most faithful collaborators, as Marzia. The result was a stunning opera of which Prince Charles Albert wrote that “Everything gave undiminished delight.” Only acts two and three of Catone in Utica survive in the archives of the Biblioteca Nationale in Turin. For this recording, Alan Curtus and Alessandro Ciccolini have painstakingly reconstructed act one.
The star of the CD must surely be Swedish mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg. Her portrayal of the fiendish role of Emilia is outstanding, both vocally and with respect to characterisation. Hallenberg’s rendition of "O nel sen di qualche stella" is a masterclass in the art of singing. Hallenberg’s rich mezzo blossoms at the top of her range, with never a hint of shrillness, while the low register is full and warm. Listen out for the stunning multiple Bb3’s (Baroque Pitch) in the A section. Her thirst for vengeance in the B section is chilling, and the virtuosity of the extended staccato ornamentation on the word “tiranno” is without parallel.
"Come invano il mare irato" sees Hallenberg sail through over two octaves of Vivaldi’s glorious music, from G3 to B5. The unbelievable virtuosity of the endless runs in the da capo, and the magnificent A Capella C6 in the cadenza, are just two of the many highlights of the aria. Hallenberg utterly dominates the music, showing no fear while being totally immersed in the music. It is clear from this recording that she is one of the finest singers on the world stage today.
Roberta Mameli’s Cesare is something of a revelation. In “Vaga sei nè sdegni tuoi” Mameli relishes the relentless pace of Vivaldi’s tempestuous aria. Her repeated notes in the da capo are perfectly executed: a truly unbelievable performance. In "Se in campo armato", Cesare throws down the gauntlet to Catone in this coloratura-laden aria. Mameli interpolates some exciting staccato ornamentation in da capo.
Another side of Cesare’s character is seen in "Apri le luci e mira." Mameli’s pure lyric soprano weaves a hunting and hypnotic spell in this devastating expression of Cesare’s love. The B section contains some voluptuous vocal writing by Vivaldi, particularly on the extended phrases on the word “fiamma.” "Se mai senti spirarti sul volto lieve" is a much lighter expression of love, and one which, particularly in the A section, presages Mozart. Mameli’s phrasing in this aria is utterly sublime.
The rest of the assembled cast produced some very strong singing. Topi Lehtipuu’s Catone is both energetic and engaging, while Sonia Prina’s Marzia is a delight: full of warmth in the chest register, and desplaying her trademark lightning coloratura in "Se parto, se resto". Romina Basso’s Fulvio was full of fury in "L'ira mia, bella sdegnata", bringing tangible vitriol to the aria, while Emőke Baráth’s Arbace was highly emotional and full of anguish. The accompaniment from Il Complesso Barocco was outstanding, with some surprisingly fierce direction from Alan Curtis.
As part of their ambitious project, the Vivaldi Edition, Naïve have released a second compilation of operatic arias, showcasing the work of the “Red Priest”.
All of the arias are taken from the “Turin treasure,” the collection of 22 operas and around 50 arias preserved in the archives of the National Library of Turin. The arias incorporated into this compilation move throughout the whole spectrum of emotional expression, from fierce tempests to the tenderest expressions of love. The credits list runs like a “who’s Who” of Baroque music, with performers such as Philippe Jaroussky, Nathalie Stutzmann, Sandrine Piau and Jean-Christophe Spinosi.
The collection begins with the fierce “Se lento ancora il fulmine” from Argippo, which was re-discovered relatively recently by Czech harpsichordist and conductor Ondrej Macek in Regensburg. The Italian mezzo-contralto Romina Basso gives an utterly astonishing performance, with her warm voice darkening wildly to infuse the aria with terrible rage.
Sandrine Piau is equally formidable in “Alma oppressa da sorte crudele
” from La fida ninfa.
The music is very similar to the fiendish “Dominus a Dextris Tuis
”, a Tenor aria from Dixit Dominus, RV 807
, and gives the singer very little time to breathe. This poses no problems for Piau, whose explosive coloratura cuts through the music like a knife. Particularly stunning is her ornamentation in the da capo, with a string of staccato leaps to C6 (A=415). Jean-Christophe Spinosi’s direction is vigorous, and his decision to highlight the bass pedal with a strong crescendo is highly dramatic.
More fireworks from Russian soprano Julia Lezhneva as she sings “Gelosia
” from Ottone in villa.
Lezhneva’s rich, plumy soprano moves effortlessly thought the relentless coloratura of the A-section, while tenderly caressing Vivaldi’s beautiful and tragic phrases in the B-section. The 1714 edition of Orlando furioso
has a version of “Nel profondo cieco mondo
” for baritone, which is admirably performed by Riccardo Novaro. The music is the most “Handelian” I have heard from Vivaldi. “Alme perfide isegnatemi
” from Atenaide
provides some punishing writing for the tenor voice, which Stefano Ferrari navigates with immense skill. Mention must also be made of the beautiful pizzicato string playing from Modo Antiquo under the direction of Federico Maria Sardelli in “Cor moi che prigion sei
The most ethereal aria on the album is the delicious “Sol da te
” from Orlando Furioso
. Philippe Jaroussky and Jean-Christophe Spinosi join forces to produce a truly mesmerising performance. Jaroussky is on top form here, producing that clear, tense yet floating tone for which he is famous. His “duet” with the flute is both measured and intense.
Finnish tenor Topi Lehtipuu shines in the lament “Deh ti piega” from La Fida Ninfa. He spins line after line of sensuous legato, moving effortlessly through the registers, producing a whole gamut of rich vocal coloration. The most interesting combination of tone comes in the duet “Che amaro tormento” from Teuzzone. Here, contralto Delphine Galou and sopranist Paolo Lopez sing their love duet, and it is fascinating hear the high and bright timbre of Lopez interact with Galou’s dark contralto.
This second volume is a fantastic showcase for almost 25 years’ worth of research, recording and rediscovery by Naïve records of Vivaldi’s work. With so many gems here, this is a must-have for any Baroque collector, and a wonderful introduction for anyone looking to dive into the Baroque and Vivaldi for the first time.
Australian countertenor David Hansen’s first solo CD, Rivals: Arias for Farinelli & Co, is an exciting collection of long-forgotten arias from the Baroque period. The selection has been perfectly chosen to showcase his lyric-coloratura voice and his deep understanding of the music of the Baroque period.
Rivals is dominated by the composer Leonardo Vinci, who had the ability to create both stunningly beautiful and fiercely energetic music with the most simple compositional devices. The other composers featured are Leonardo Leo, Giovanni Battista Bononcini and Riccardo Broschi. The arias included were all written for some of the most famous castrati of the day: Farinelli, Caffarelli, Carestini, Bernacchi. Now, thanks to performers such as Hansen, Bartoli, Fagioli and Kermes, these soprano-tessitura arias are again coming to light, wowing audiences both in the concert hall and on disk.
The first aria, “In braccio a mille furie” from Vinci’s Semiramide riconosciuta, is a whirlwind piece, with a high tessitura and runs which move through the whole of the range. Hansen’s laser-like voice is effortlessly clear and on pitch in the high register. Hansen creates a palpable sense of urgency in the B-section, while his ornamentation in the da capo coruscates across the intense accompaniment provided by Alessandro de Marchi and the Academia Montis Regalis. The second aria from Vinci, “Sento due fiamme in petto” from Il Medo, showcases Hansen’s excellent support and technique, as he moves through the languid phrases with grace and tenderness. His pause on the leading note at the end of the cadenza at the start of the da capo is sublime.
Two more arias come from Vinci’s Il Medo. “Non è più folle lusinga” is a slow aria with a very scaled-back accompaniment, which leaves Hansen’s voice exposed, particularly in the high register. His tone is never squeezed, always restrained and fully supported. The tessitura of “Taci o di morte” is firmly in the alto range, and here Hansen shows his technique in the lower falsetto register and the modulation in and out of the modal voice over the course of a legato phrase. The final offering from Vinci is “Risveglia lo sdegno” from Alessandro. This is a foot-stomping extravaganza, complete with horns and timpani, Hansen positively revels in the coloratura and arpeggios, powering through them with a truly heroic sound.
Leonardo Leo is represented by two arias. The first, “Talor che irato è il vento” from Andromaca, contains Leo’s trademark leaps to A5 and B5, and long phrases which leap throughout the range, which Hansen execute with frightening ease. “Freme orgogliosa l'onda” from Demetrio is a hellishly difficult aria, with several awkward intervals, a phrase consisting of octave leaps up to and down from B5, and many transitions into the low register. This is definitely one of the best arias on the CD. Bononcini’s “Cara Sposa” from Griselda is a typical love aria of the period. Hansen’s voice floats ethereally above the continuo, and weaves like a gossamer thread through the accompanying upper strings.
But the highlight of the album is Broschi’s “Son qual nave”. This version, which was rediscovered in an archive in Vienna, has Farinelli’s own ornamentation marked in his own hand, and Rivals presents it as a world premier recording. It also includes two horns, a completely new B-section, and several changes to the composition of the A-section for both voice and orchestra. With an astounding range, unending lines of coloratura, and many rubato phrases, this is most definitely a show-stopping extravaganza of an aria, and a true indication both of the vocal prowess of the castrati, and of Hansen.
A gripping tale, steeped in mythology, enriched with historical detail, and bound together with fantastic artwork and an engaging concept: Alex Anstey's graphic novel, Nine Tenths - The Slider, makes for a gripping read which you will not be able to put down.
The new graphic novel from Reality in Dreams, Nine Tenths - The Slider is a powerful story about life, death and hope, and what happens when the three collide. In this first instalment of Alex Anstey's dark fantasy, we meet Sarah, a little girl who has lost her mother and brother in the terrible storm of 1987.
Bringing the story to life with some wonderful local detail, Anstey describes how Sarah's world is turned upside-down two years later, when she encounters a terrible entity under the bandstand in Clapham Common, London. In fact, many references to local landmarks in London occur throughout the book, and the story itself takes place in London - with a very welcome reference to the River Effra.
The story follows the fate of Sarah, and her lost brother, as they begin to play their part in the epic saga played out by the Gods Diocletion, ruler of the land of the living, and her brother Solon, the master of the dead. Vespasian, the warden, makes sure that the balance between the two worlds remains intact, though his methods are ruthless and unforgiving.
Underpinning the mythology is the idea of The Threads, streams of life force which all come from the first life thread. As each person dies, their thread is severed, its owner left to move from Diocletion's domains to the realm of Solon. But what happens when it goes wrong?
That is precisely what happens in Nine Tenths - The Slider
, and the repercussions draw the two worlds to the brink of Armageddon. But this is not the first time such a mistake has occurred. Once before, a long time ago, another Thread was left unsevered, and another war threatened to pit Diocletion and Solon against each other.
Now, both mistakes will need to be solved in order to bring peace back to the worlds of the living and the dead. Who will save the worlds? Only Sarah, and the mysterious Slider…
This first instalment of the Nine Tenths
sets the scene for an amazing series. The story is intense and dynamic, the artwork powerful, and the concept one which will keep you glued to the pages, and leave you eager for the next instalment.
To get your copy, check out the Reality in Dreams Website
The new CD from Naïve records is a stunning collection of arias written for the star castrato Caffarelli. Performed by the Argentinian countertenor Franco Fagioli and Il Pomo d'Oro, led by Riccardo Minasi, it is packed with world-premier recordings.
The CD begins with the astonishing “Fra L'orror Della Tempesta” from Johann Adolf Hasse’s Siroe. Fagioli’s formidable virtuosity is on display from the onset, ascending the first of several A5’s at the beginning of the second phrase. The punishing tessitura would be unmanageable for many singers, yet Fagioli seems to revel in the high phrases. His navigation of the four consecutive trilled A5’s in the A section is a delight to listen to. In the second Hasse offering, “Ebbi Da Te La Vita”, Fagioli’s incredible legato and support come to the fore, each phrase handled tenderly.
From the opening fanfare of Vinci’s “In Braccio a Mille Furie” it is clear that this aria is going to blow the listener’s socks off. Fagioli spins a furious dance across nearly two octaves, running seamlessly from D4 (the only note Fagioli modulates into the modal voice to sing) and A5 and B5. Leonardo Leo’s “Misero Pargoletto” is a tense, atmospheric piece, which Fagioli performs with intelligent choices in both dynamics and tempi. By sustaining a slow pace throughout the aria, he envelops the listener in the fluidic texture of the composition, in a similar mannaer to Bartoli in arias such as “Sposa, non mi conosci”.
More fireworks abound in the frenetic “Un cor che ben ama” from Domenico Sarro’s Valdemaro. Mention must be made of the spectacular virtuosity of the trumpet playing in the aria. The maturity and depth in Pergolesi’s “Lieto cosi talvolta” is apparent from the opening few bars. Following the showy spectacle of the previous aria, “Lieto cosi tavolta” allows us to admire Fagioli’s ability to turn the simplicity of Pergolesi’s line into a masterclass of breath-control, technique, and beautiful, exposed high notes.
In “Sperai vicino il lido”, Leonardo Leo alternates between pensive slow phrases, and speedy virtuosic passages. Fagioli navigates these changes well, with some stunning register shifts as he masterfully dominates the aria’s wide vocal range. By far the most elegant aria on the album is the pensive “Rendimi più sereno” by Cafaro. Fagioli plays on the pastoral feel of the aria, weaving a sumptuous fabric of tonal colour and phrasing. The showy and ebullient “Passaggier che sulla sponda” by Porpora has Fagioli leaping across his vast vocal range with tremendous precision and impeccable tonal integrity.
Beginning with a beautiful messa di voce, the high tessitura of Manna’s “Cara ti lascio, addio” is a showcase for Fagioli’s tremendous and well supported high falsetto range. His light touches on the dissociated high notes in the longer phrases are deliciously tender, never resorting to breathiness or tightening the tone. Finally, as if to rid the listener of any doubt to Cafferelli’s supreme skill and obvious dominance in the Baroque world, Fagioli finishes the CD with the astounding “Odo il suono di tromba guerriera”, also by Manna. Sailing up to a B5 in the first minute and a half, the whole aria is a stunning finale showcasing the sheer breadth and stamina of Fagioli’s voice. The da capo sees him descend to a fierce E3 in the modal voice, which seems more like a contralto’s lower register than the “second voice” of the countertenor, and soar up to D6 (A-415) in the final cadenza.
This is a must have for any countertenor fan, and an amazing addition to the collections already existent which form part of the ongoing Baroque music revival. With this fantastic CD, Fagioli does indeed redefine the capabilities of the countertenor voice.
have struck gold with this stunning collection of early music songs. With music from Monteverdi, Handel, Scarlatti and others, this CD has the perfect combination of sublime, tender phrases with fast, exhilarating coloratura. Performing the works are the renowned early music specialists Sonia Prina
(contralto) and Roberta Invernizzi (soprano). Both women are known for their intelligent and well researched performances, and for their formidable vocal athleticism. Accompanying them are the Ensemble Claudiana, lead by Luca Pianca, who will be accompanying Sonia Prina at her Wigmore Hall concert on 30th Dec.
The CD is dominated by the giant figure of Monteverdi. The opening duet, "Interrotte Speranze" is from the Seventh Book of Madrigals published in 1619. The opening unison phrase by Invernizzi and Prina, is followed by a sinuous, snake-like intertwining of voices, as the soprano and the contralto dance around each other in close harmony. The decision to let Prina’s penultimate “mio” hang in the air, pausing before Invernizzi’s entrance on the final phrase, adds powerfully to the drama of the piece.
Another piece from the Seventh Book of Madrigals is “Ohimè, dov’è il mio ben” and “vorrei bacarti”. “Ohimè, dov’è il mio ben” is split into four parts. The end of the first section sees Prina’s contralto scored above Invernizzi’s soprano, adding an interesting texture. In the third section, Invernizzi floats a gorgeous pianissimo Eb5 on the phrase “in me più che’l”, while the final section saw Prina descend to rock solid G3 on the word “morte”.
Roberta Invernizzi (Soprano), Luca Pianca (Archlute), Sonia Prina (Contralto)
The highlight of the CD is the magnificent “Pur ti Miro”, the closing duet from Monteverdi’s opera L’incoronazione di Poppea. In the A section, Prina and Invernizzi are the epitome of sensual tenderness, their voices dancing playfully and skilfully through Monteverdi’s tender music. Check out the immaculate semitone dissonance on the phrase “più non peno/più non moro”.
"Mentre vaga Angioletta" comes from Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of Madrigals. After an extended solo entrance by Prina, she and Invernizzi alternate between exquisitely precise coloratura, and haunting chromatic lines reminiscent of Purcell. The sublime moment of the piece comes on the phrase “mormorando in basso, e mobil suono” as Prina and Invernizzi sing in close harmony, crossing parts every second note. The execution of the broken coloratura on the phrase “hor la raffrena” is again testament to the skill of the two performers.
The other “big gun” on the CD is Handel, represented with two duets. “Tanti strali”, sees Prina exercise her wonderful lower register, with a couple of phrases in the third section lying almost exclusively below the stave. The middle section of the duet is indicative of Handel’s melodic and harmonic genius, with several spine-tingling suspensions, and a novel resolution on the words “arsa e consunta”. The interplay between Prina and Invernizzi is perfectly measured, with Invernizzi producing several beautiful high pianissimi.
The CD also features one aria each by Marcello, Lotti, and Durnate, and a sonata by Domenico Scarlatti. Luca Pianca and the Ensemble Claudiana are exemplary throughout the recording. Pianca’s well researched and intuitive direction brings out the best in all the performers, and brings to the fore aspects of the two major composers which would otherwise have been lost. His use of dynamics to emphasise certain words and structural parts of the compositional texture is genius, and works particularly well given the “stripped down” quality of the accompaniment. Amore e morte dell’amore is a "must have" this summer.