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Crescentini: Cantatas, Arias / Marina Comparato, Gianni Fabbrini

Crescentini / Comparato / Fabbrini
Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Tactus   Catalog #: 760390   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina ComparatoGianni Fabbrini
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



CRESCENTINI Cantate e Ariette Marina Comparato (mez); Gianni Fabbrini (fp) TACTUS 760390 (2 CDs: 128:41)


It is true that during the age of castrati, virtually all of the singers had some predilection for musical composition. One can define this dabbling as an avocation, or perhaps even some form of personal conceit, given that usually these attempts were secondary to their careers as vocal artists and rarely achieved any sort of contemporaneous acclaim. The great Farinelli, for instance, composed music, Read more but much of the work written for him from within the family came from his brother, Riccardo Broschi, who in turn has been largely relegated to some sort of second or even third rank compared with the major figures, such as Handel or Hasse, who figured more prominently in the singer’s career. Nonetheless, Farinelli, like many of his colleagues was certainly no amateur at composition, though their aspirations did not lead to anything much in that field. Towards the end of this age, however, versatility became the watchword, as the castrati were replaced by more conventional voice types.


In the late 18th and early 19th century, Girolamo Crescentini, one of the last great castratos, became an important figure, adept in both performance and creative work. Crescentini, born in 1762 near Urbino, had his first success in 1796 in Milan with an opera by Antonio Zingarelli. His signature role was that of Romeo in the latter’s Giulietta e Romeo , a nice little potboiler whose Shakespearean roots are rather diffused. Indeed, he became famed for his emotional portrayal, culminating in an insertion aria of his own composition, “Ombra adorata,” which, much to Zingarelli’s chagrin, overshadowed the rest of the work in its popularity. So much so that Napoleon Bonaparte became enraptured and invited Crescentini to Paris, where he attained spectacular success as the Emperor’s favorite singer. Upon his return to Italy in 1812, he became a much sought after teacher, whose students included Isabella Colbran, Rossini’s operatic “muse” as the excellent notes by Alessandro Mormile reveal, and even writing a seminal treatise on vocalise, a main feature of the 19th-century bel canto style. By his death, in Naples in 1846, his career as a castrato had long since been replaced by other pursuits.


As a composer, Crescentini was particularly active, writing over 60 works for voice and piano, mainly small cantatas and arias, but also about two dozen fully-orchestrated vocal works, as well as no fewer than 11 sets of pedagogical exercises and treatises. Among these are the works recorded here for the first time, a set of six small arias for the Queen of the Netherlands published in Vienna in 1797 and three books of “cantata e arietta” composed in Paris during his sojourn there. This two-disc set marks one of the first appearances of his music on disc. The aforementioned “Ombra adorata” does exist, sung by Deborah Riedel with Richard Bonynge on Melba, and several of his songs with guitar appeared on Tactus in 2006 and Pneuma Classics back in 2000, but these are isolated numbers. Here, for the first time, one can gauge Crescentini’s style at leisure. In “Fra tanti pulpiti,” for example, one finds a lilting vocal line with shades of Vincenzo Bellini in the flowing compound meter line. Elsewhere, such as the cantata “Il Sogno,” a rather virtuoso fortepiano introduction leads into a lovely lyrical line. In “Che chiedi, che brami,” there is a halting and harmonically unstable slower introduction followed by a nicely Rossinian line replete with subtle fioritura. In each work, Crescentini crafts small gems that one would swear belong to the age of bel canto, although they were written decades before.


Insofar as the performances themselves are concerned, I must regretfully report mixed reactions. The accompaniment by Gianni Fabrini is nice and light, always tasteful, with a good sense of phrasing and flow to Crescentini’s susurrating lines and making the often virtuoso flourishes sound easy. When Crescentini resorts to the tried and true Alberti figuration so typical of the age, Fabrini makes it seem almost modern rather than somewhat dated by the early 1800s, never quite stereotyping the figures in a Mozartean manner. I do have concerns with Marina Comparato’s performance. In an age where one knows a great deal about performance practice of the period, especially in the sort of salon works represented here, the use of a fully Verdian mezzo soprano with some note scooping, highly resonant tone, and a wide vibrato may seem almost too operatic. Besides, on many occasions, such as in the arietta “Languir d’amore,” the vibrato actually seems to make the exact pitch tenuous. On the other hand, her interpretations of the vocalises and compound rhythms of the Italian music of this time is Rossinian (Bellinian, Verdian, or whatever one wishes to call it) in a tradition that extends back two centuries, so there is something to be said for such a rich performance style. Take your pick. In any case, this is a good sampling of Crescentini’s justly famed salon style that gives a new insight into the music meant for the high society of the time.


FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

1. Il sogno by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
2. Il primo amore by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
3. È pur soave amore by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
4. Nice verrà quell’ora by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
5. Quel cor che mi prometti by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
6. Or che la notte invita by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
7. Ch’io mai vi possa by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
8. Sino all’ultimo momento by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
9. Ariette italiane (12): Numi, se giusti siete by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1797 
10. Ariette italiane (12): Languir d'amore by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1797 
11. La scusa by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
12. Il ritorno by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
13. Povero cor by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
14. Ti lascio mia vita by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
15. Ore spietate by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
16. Se tu m’ami by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
17. Oh teneri piaceri by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
18. Amor timido by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
19. La gelosia by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
20. Fra tanti palpiti by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
21. Son lungi e non mi brami by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
22. Mio ben ricordati by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
23. Dal dì ch’io ti mirai by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
24. Spine voi che germogliate by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
25. Alma dell’alma mia by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
26. Quando sarà quel dì by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
27. Mi lagnerò tacendo by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
28. Deh frena le lagrime by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)
29. Che chiedi, che brami by Girolamo Crescentini
Performer:  Marina Comparato (Mezzo Soprano), Gianni Fabbrini (Piano)

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