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Monteverdi: L'orfeo / Haïm, Bostridge, Dessay, Et Al

Release Date: 04/06/2004 
Label:  Virgin Classics Veritas Catalog #: 45642   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Mario LuperiVéronique GensLorenzo RegazzoPascal Bertin,   ... 
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'AstréeEuropean Voices
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 36 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

There's no dearth of fine Orfeo recordings on the market: Gardiner's (Archiv) is thrilling in a big, dramatic way, with a large-ish chorus; Pickett's (L'Oiseau-Lyre) uses a peculiar but interestingly grand and sharp-edged brass complement. As far as instrumental and choral forces are concerned, this new performance strikes me as ideal: the chorus is 14 strong, and there are eight brass players and 18 other instrumentalists. So the celebratory shepherds in Act 1 sound like real pals of the happy couple's--and they're having a grand old time. The instruments make a glorious noise in the final Moresca, and they're properly ceremonial and spooky in the odd fanfare music at the start of Act 3.
Read more Furthermore, the voice/instrument balance is just right, with the violin lines clear and effective, noticeably commenting on and joining in the action, with the brass adding brilliance when it should. Nothing sounds bloated or undernourished and the drama plays out naturally.

Harpsichordist-turned-conductor Emmanuelle Haïm's leadership is quick and dramatic. From Musica's opening moments in the Prologue--gloriously sung by Natalie Dessay--we note the use of expressive embellishments. They're not as florid throughout the rest of the opera, but Musica (correctly) sets the tone. The pastoral scenes have a lovely clarity and carefree quality, and the dances are truly energetic and joyous. And this honesty and directness is a delight throughout.

Ian Bostridge's Orfeo is not as "early music" sounding as many; he uses vibrato, and sometimes his intensity, particularly in his grieving scenes, creates sounds that are not beautiful. But with his spontaneity--characteristic of the whole set--he's a flesh-and-blood Orfeo, almost unique among the competition. His huge third-act scene goes splendidly, complete with precise divisions and that remarkable "goat trill" Monteverdi asks for. Alice Coote's Messenger is similarly biggish-voiced, and her unhappy task is very moving. (Catherine Bott, for Pickett, remains the one by which Messengers should be judged--hushed, almost paralyzingly slow and sad.) Patrizia Ciofi, with little to do as Eurydice, is lovely, while Sonia Prina's Speranza is a ray of light. The Prosperina and Plutone of Veronique Gens and Lorenzo Regazzo make them seem like a real couple. Christopher Maltman makes hash of Apollo's florid music near the opera's close, but then he settles in authoritatively as he and Orfeo ascend.

The instrumentalists are superb, playing without some of the rasp (in the brass) that can be both colorful and irritating on other recordings. Haïm uses concert pitch A=465, which is about a half-tone higher than we're used to: Could this add to the urgency of this reading? While it tends to lighten the lower-voiced parts, it does add sheen to the higher ones. In short, this set is a treasure, giving us an Orfeo that seems anything but a museum piece. [4/15/2004]
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Mario Luperi (Bass), Véronique Gens (Soprano), Lorenzo Regazzo (Bass),
Pascal Bertin (Countertenor), Richard Burkhard (Bass), Paul Agnew (Tenor),
Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Sonia Prina (Soprano), Ian Bostridge (Tenor),
Natalie Dessay (Soprano), Patrizia Ciofi (Soprano), Alice Coote (Soprano),
Christopher Maltman (Baritone), Emmanuelle Haïm (Harpsichord), Emmanuelle Haïm (Organ)
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée,  European Voices
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1607; Mantua, Italy 
Length: 96 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

Sound Samples

Orfeo: Toccata
Orfeo, Prologue: Ritornello
Orfeo, Prologue: 'Dal Moi Permesso' (La Musica)
Orfeo, Prologue: 'Io la Musica son' (La Musica)
Orfeo, Prologue: 'Io su cetera' (La Musica)
Orfeo, Prologue: 'Quinci a dir d'Orfeo' (La Musica)
Orfeo, Prologue: 'Hor mentre i canti alterno' (La Musica)
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'In questi lieto fortunato giorno' (Pastore)
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Vieni Imeneo, deh vieni' (Choro)
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Muse honor di Parnasso (Ninfa
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Lasciate i monte, lasciate i fonte' (Choro)
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Ma tu gentil cantor' (Pastore)
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Rosa del ciel, vita del mondo' Orfeo
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Io non diro qual sia' (Euridice)
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Lasciate i monte, lasciate i fonte' (Choro)
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Vieni Imeneo, deh vieni' (Choro)
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Ma s'il nostro gioir dal ciel deriva' (Pastore)/Ritornello
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Alcun non sia che disperato in preda'/Ritornello
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Che poi che nembro rio gravido il seno'/Ritornello
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'E dopo l'aspro gel del verno ignudo'
Orfeo, Atto Primo: 'Ecco Orfeo cui pur dianzi'
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: Sinfonia/'..Ecco pur ch'a voi ritorno' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: Ritornello/'..Mira ch'a se n'alletta' (Pastore)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: Ritornello/'In questo prato adorno' (Due Pastori)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: Ritornello/'Qui le Nappe e vezzose' (Due Patori)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: Ritornello/'Vi ricorda o boschi ombrosi' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: 'Mira deh mira Orfeo' (Pastore)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: 'In un fiorito prato' (Messagiera)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: 'Tu se' morta' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: 'Ahi caso acerbo' (Choro)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: 'Ma io ch'in questa lingua' (Messagiera)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: Sinfonia/'Chi be consoal ahi lassi?' (Due Pastori)
Orfeo, Atto Secondo: Ritornello
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: Sinfonia
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'Scorto da te mio Nume' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'Ecco l'altra palude, ecco il nocchiero' (Speranza/Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'O tu ch'innanzi mort'a questi rive' (Caronte)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: Sinfonia
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'Possente Spirito e formidabil Nume' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: Ritornello (Violino I e II)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'Non viv'io no, che poi di vita è priva' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'A lei volt'ho il camin per l'aer cieco' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: Ritornello (Arpa)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'Orfeo son io che d'Euridice i passi' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'Sol Tu nobile Deo puoi darmi aita' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'Ben mi lusinga alquanto' (Caronte/Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'Ahi sventurato a mante, Sperar dunque non lice' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: Sinfonia
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: 'Ei dorme e la mia cetra Se pietà non impetra' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Terzo: Sinfonia a 7 /'Nulla impressa per huom si tenta invano' (Choro)/Sinfonia a 7
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'Signor quel infelice' (Proserpina)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'Benchè severo e immutabil fato' (Plutone)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'O degli habitato de l'ombre eterne' (Uno spirito del coro/Un altro spirito del coro)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'Quali grazie tirendo' (Proserpina/Plutone)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'Tue soavi parole d'Amor l'antica piaga...' (Plutone)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'Pietade oggi et Amore Trionfan' (Coro di spiriti a Cinque/Spirito del coro)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'Qual honor di te fia degno' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'Ma mentre io canto (oimè)' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'O dolcissimi lumi io pur vi veggio' (Orfeo/ Un spirito)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'Ahi vista troppo dolce e troppo amara' (Euridice/Un spirito del coro)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: 'Dove te'n vai mia vita' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Quarto: Sinfonia a 7/'E la virtute un raggio' (Choro di Spiriti)/Sinfonia a 7
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: Ritornello
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: 'Questi i campi di Tracia' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: 'Ma tu anima mia se mai ritorna' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: Tu bella fusti e saggia' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: Sinfonia
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: 'Perch'a lo sdegno e al dolor in preda' (Apollo)
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: 'Padre cortese al maggior uopo arrivi' (Orfeo)
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: 'Troppo gioisti di tua lieta ventura' (Apollo)
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: 'Si non vedro piu mai...' (Orfeo/Apollo)
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: 'Saliam d'al Cielo' (Orfeo/Apollo)
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: Ritornello/'Vanne Orfeo felice a pieno' (Choro)
Orfeo, Atto Quinto: Moresca

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