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Italian Love Cantatas / Vajente, Epoca Barocca

Steffani / Vivaldi / Scarlatti / Epoca Barocca
Release Date: 03/27/2012 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777583   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Agostino SteffaniAntonio VivaldiAntonio LottiDomenico Scarlatti
Performer:  Silvia Vajente
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Epoca Barocca
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

ITALIAN LOVE CANTATAS Silvia Vajente (sop); Epoca Barocca CPO 777 583-2 (73:00)

STEFFANI Spezza, Amor, l’arco. VIVALDI All’ ombra di sospetto. LOTTI Ti sento, o dio bendato. D. SCARLATTI Di Fille vendicarmi. MANCINI Quanto dolce Read more è quell’ ardore. A. M. BONONCINI Idol mio, mio bel tesoro

The German chamber ensemble Epoca Barocca’s seventh recording on the CPO label is a turn in a new direction, after six repertoire albums devoted to German composers, including Telemann, Hasse, Heinichen, Schaffrath, and Fasch, and a wonderful disc devoted to the underrated Giovanni Benedetto Platti, an Italian who spent most of his professional life in Würzburg. On their newest venture, simply titled Italian Love Cantatas , they team up with Italian soprano Silvia Vajente to present an attractive sampling of Italian chamber cantatas, mostly with obbligato instruments. Some of the music on this album, especially the last movement of the Vivaldi and the Neapolitan works by Mancini and Scarlatti, is pleasant but ordinary. However, the range of color, affect, and emotion achieved by Vajente and the ensemble adds so much depth and beauty that the effect is Baroque chamber music at its most intimate and satisfying.

The opening cantata is perhaps the most interesting, a relatively early work by the Italian priest, composer, and diplomat Agostino Steffani. Dating from his years in Munich, it is scored for soprano, obbligato oboe, obbligato bassoon, and basso continuo, and the spirited dialog between Vajente, the dark and creamy Baroque oboe of Alessandro Piqué, and Viet Scholz’s reedy yet bright Baroque bassoon in the opening aria is simply outstanding. Baroque flutist Marcell Gatti’s warm and focused tone waxes both pleading and playful in the Vivaldi cantata and the sweet Idol mio, mio bel tesoro by Antonio Maria Bononcini (1677–1726), younger brother of Giovanni Battista Bononcini of Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee fame.

The not-too-warm yet richly layered color of Vajente’s voice complements and blends beautifully with the instruments in all of their various combinations. Her flexible and expressive voice handles the virtuosic demands of Steffani and Vivaldi’s rapid-fire passagework with athletic confidence, with a natural, effortless vibrato that rarely gets in the way of her articulation. Her treatment of Vivaldi’s second recitative O quanti amanti, O quanti , from All’ ombra di sospetto —a 50-second harmonic and melodramatic whirlwind—succinctly showcases Vajente as a mature and rhetorically aware singer who can boldly imbue the stylized world of Baroque music with the full palette of human emotions, and who can effectively communicate the power of live performance through the imperfect medium of commercial recording.

The strong continuo team of keyboardist Christoph Anselm Noll, cellist Werner Natzke, and archlutenist Matthias Spaeter provides a strongly integrated texture of support and drive. At the organ, Noll provides a cool foundation on which the oboe and bassoon can paint, while at the harpsichord—a recent copy of a German instrument by Mietke that lacks a bit of the incisive, brassy edge I expect from Italian harpsichords—he balances power and sensitivity with a keen ear for the music’s rhythmic foundations.

A close and intimate soundstage enhances the chamber effect of this recording. While there is enough space between instruments and voice to let each sound independent and clear, they are close enough to create a welcoming yet balanced whole that yields a real treat for the senses.

FANFARE: Henry Lebedinsky
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Works on This Recording

Spezza amor l'arco by Agostino Steffani
Performer:  Silvia Vajente (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Epoca Barocca
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
All'ombra di sospetto, RV 678 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Silvia Vajente (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Epoca Barocca
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Ti sento o Dio bendato by Antonio Lotti
Performer:  Silvia Vajente (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Epoca Barocca
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
Di fille vendicarmi vorrei by Domenico Scarlatti
Performer:  Silvia Vajente (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Epoca Barocca
Period: Baroque 
Written: Spain 

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