Holiday Shop


WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

La Prima Diva - Arie Per Faustina Bordoni / Agata Bienkowska


Release Date: 05/27/2014 
Label:  Tactus   Catalog #: 670003   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Domenico SarroPietro TorriGiovanni BononciniGeorge Frideric Handel,   ... 
Performer:  Agata BienkowskaIra Hochman
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 0 Hours 52 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

LA PRIMA DIVA: Arias for Faustina Bordoni • Agata Bie?kowska (mez); Ira Hochman (fp, cond); Barockwerk Hamburg • TACTUS 670003 (52: 07)

SARRO Didone Abbandonata: Sinfonia. Astianatte: Sinfonia. Partenope: Per abbattere il mio core; Begl’occhi del mio ben. TORRI Griselda: Se amori ascolterò. CALDARA Venceslao: Egra e languente. BONONCINI Griselda: Sinfonia. HANDEL Alessandro: Alla sua gabbia d’oro. HASSE Viriate: Si, quei ferri. Ciro riconosciuto: Non sdegnarti: a te mi fido

Faustina Bordoni (1697–1781), the great Italian mezzo-soprano, was one of the two biggest non-castrato opera stars of her era. The other was soprano Francesca Cuzzoni (1696–1778), and the two unfortunately appeared together on
Read more occasion. I say “unfortunately” because the two ladies didn’t act like ladies during and after their duets. The performances deteriorated into an “anything you can sing, I can sing better” bout, and after the duets were over they often slapped each other and, on one memorable occasion, pulled each other’s hair (and I do mean their real hair, not the stage wigs). This was at the Haymarket Theatre, London, on June 6, 1727. Following the debacle—in which the two ladies’ followers also engaged in a riot—pamphleteer John Arbuthnot chastised them both for their “most horrible and bloody battle,” adding that “I shall not determine who is the Aggressor, but … it is it is certainly an apparent Shame that two such well bred Ladies should call Bitch and Whore, should scold and fight like any Billingsgates.” (Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faustina_Bordoni). Composer and flautist Johann Joachim Quantz described her voice to Charles Burney as “less clear than penetrating….She possessed what the Italians call un cantar granito; her execution was articulate and brilliant. She had a fluent tongue for pronouncing words rapidly and distinctly, and a flexible throat for divisions, with so beautiful a shake that she put it in motion upon short notice….She was an excellent actress … equally effective in expressing violence, love or tenderness.” (From the liner notes.) In short, Bordoni was somewhat like Pauline Viardot-Garcia or our own modern-day Cecilia Bartoli, noted for her interpretive and brilliant qualities more than sheer beauty of voice. Soprano Cuzzoni, on the other hand, was known for having an absolutely gorgeous instrument of flawless technique but not so much expression, somewhat like an early-music version of Montserrat Caballé. In 1723 the great singing teacher Pier Francesco Tosi compared them by saying “The pathetick of the one [Cuzzoni] and the allegro of the other [Faustina], are the qualities the most to be admired respectively in each of them,” further wondering if some singing genius might not combine their qualities.

The above paragraph will, hopefully, serve as an introduction to this splendid new disc from Tactus. My sole complaint is that, in such a relatively short recital, I would have wanted two more arias and not the three “sinfonias” (overtures) given here, particularly when the singer is as outstanding as Bie?kowska. This great artist—and I use that term to give honor to this marvelous singer—is a woman who has obviously worked long and hard on her voice. Like Bartoli, she impresses less with sheer beauty of tone than she does with everything else in her arsenal, but I hasten to explain that her voice is not unpleasant to listen to, it is just not tonally sumptuous like that of her countrywoman Ewa Podles. Bie?kowska knows how to sculpt a phrase, how to interpret words, and more importantly for the specific music on this recital, how to fly through those tricky scale-passages, runs, and trills without apparent effort. In brief, she is a singing machine with a heart and a soul. Imagine a combination of Marilyn Horne and Janet Baker, and you’ll have a good idea of what Bie?kowska sounds like.

That being said, it may seem a bit unfair—although true—to characterize the music as going in one ear and out the other. Except for the aria from Handel’s Alessandro and the two written by Bordoni’s husband, Johann Hasse, none of it is particularly original or interesting. If, however, you are an avid fan of 18th-century music and singing styles, you will probably not be as disappointed as I was; in fact, you will probably like this disc quite a bit.

Having spent so much space lauding Bie?kowska, I need to provide some balance by giving equal time to Ira Hochman and her magnificent early music band, Barockwerk Hamburg. Here is an early music orchestra that uses straight tone but does not play in a dull or listless fashion. Although I would have appreciated a little vibrato on held notes (particularly the solo violin in the Handel aria), at no point could I fault Hochman or her orchestra for playing inexpressively. Perhaps this is why Tactus insisted on recording three sinfonias along with the vocal selections. I should also point out that the sound quality is superb, forward and crisp.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Partenope: Per abbattere il mio core by Domenico Sarro
Performer:  Agata Bienkowska (Mezzo Soprano), Ira Hochman (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg
2.
Partenope: Begl'occhi del mio ben, dormite in pace by Domenico Sarro
Performer:  Ira Hochman (Harpsichord), Agata Bienkowska (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg
3.
Griselda: Se amori ascoltero by Pietro Torri
Performer:  Ira Hochman (Harpsichord), Agata Bienkowska (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg
4.
Griselda: Sinfonia by Giovanni Bononcini
Performer:  Ira Hochman (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg
5.
Alessandro, HWV 21: Alla sua gabbia d'oro by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Ira Hochman (Harpsichord), Agata Bienkowska (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg
Period: Baroque 
Written: England 
6.
Viriate: Si, quei ferri by Johann Adolf Hasse
Performer:  Ira Hochman (Harpsichord), Agata Bienkowska (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg
7.
Ciro riconosciuto: Non sdegnarti, a te mi fido by Johann Adolf Hasse
Performer:  Ira Hochman (Harpsichord), Agata Bienkowska (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg
8.
Il Venceslao: Egra e languente by Antonio Caldara
Performer:  Ira Hochman (Harpsichord), Agata Bienkowska (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg
9.
Didone abbandonata: Sinfonia by Domenico Sarro
Performer:  Ira Hochman (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg
10.
Astianatte: Sinfonia by Domenico Sarro
Performer:  Ira Hochman (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Ira Hochman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barockwerk Hamburg

Sound Samples

Didone abbandonata: Sinfonia
Griselda: Aria: Se amori ascoltero
Il Venceslao: Aria: Egra e languente
Astianatte: Sinfonia
La Partenope: Aria: Per abbattere il mio core
La Partenope: Aria: Begl'occhi del mio ben, dormite in pace
Griselda: Overture: Griselda: Sinfonia
Alessandro, HWV 21: Act II: Aria: Alla sua gabbia d'oro
Viriate: Aria: Si, quei ferri
Ciro riconosciuto: Aria: Non sdegnarti, a te mi fido

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In