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A perfect vehicle for Maria Cristina Kiehr's supple and expressive voice in music that needs this kind of committed advocacy
Ever more discriminating performers are needed if 17th-century music is to be extricated from precious connoisseurship and promoted as something palpably enjoyable. Maria Cristina Kiehr is playing an important part in reappraising the new, liberating dramatic forms of the 1600s. Historically, the voice had generally taken on the singularly daunting task of reflecting the human condition laid bare. Yet most good composers of the time knew that pure recitative was no substitute for the delights of song and its union of melody and harmony.
It should come as no surprise that quite soRead more many small musical talents reigned supreme in the early Italian baroque. Kiehr, however, has chosen works which skilfully blend dramatic scena with contemplative radiance, and with her significantly sensitive accompanists, Concerto Soave, has found a winning formula to project the best of the solo motet tradition.
Much skill has gone into this programme celebrating the popular 17th-century emblem of Mary Magdalene's lamentation and deploration at the foot of the Cross. Framed by two exquisite and largely unknown works, one by Agneletti and a fine cantata by Ferrari, Kiehr spins a shapely, instinctive line, nuanced rather than overwhelmed by expressive ardour. (How often vapid over-indulgence by under-nourished voices rips the heart out of this music.) Kiehr shows admirable judgement in how she sustains the intensity of the most sectional work, Rossi's Pender non prima (taking as its model Monteverdi's Lamento d'Arianna).
A noble and graciously covered mezzo register is the conduit for Kiehr's profound sensuality, heard delightfully in the Gratiani work, where her gleaming and accurate upper register shuns the piping angel and portrays a 'faithful grieving Lover' in a state of extreme emotion. The high tessitura is not the prettiest nor the most controlled (I mentioned this of her otherwise excellent Monteverdi recital, 8/99), and it underlines her limited tonal range in works such as Bernabei's Heu me miseram where excitement results in some shrillness. She often makes up for this in the subtlety of her accentuation and inflexion. The Frescobaldi works fit her like a glove - paragraphed declamatory songs, beautifully formed and succinctly expressed. In 'A pie della gran croce', she demonstrates a feeling for the text which lifts superficial narrative into heart-felt supplication. With some evocative and breezy instrumental contributions, this is a disc which tackles this music with distinction. These are mature readings of works whose performance too often misses the mark. Thumbs up, nearly all round.
-- Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone [6/2000, reviewing the original release] Read less
Works on This Recording
Queste pungenti spineby Benedetto Ferrari Performer:
Maria Cristina Kiehr (Soprano)
Period: Baroque Written: 17th Century; Italy Length: 13 Minutes 54 Secs.
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