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Scarlatti: Disperato Amore / White, Les Voix Baroques


Release Date: 02/22/2005 
Label:  Analekta   Catalog #: 29904   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alessandro Scarlatti
Performer:  Matthew White
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Voix Baroques
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

There's almost zero recorded competition in this repertoire, and fortunately for listeners who enjoy Italian Baroque cantatas, Matthew White is a superb advocate for Scarlatti's particular melodic style--wide ranging and often laced with leaping intervals, dramatically characterful in its use of altered notes and descriptive rhythmic changes, supported by occasional orchestral color effects or highlighted by brief passages where the instruments are silent. However, none of this expressiveness is achieved with grand gestures or even the kind of overtly virtuosic writing common to some other composers of this and later periods.

Nevertheless, Scarlatti's instincts prove well-suited to his artistic ends--for instance, the
Read more anguished utterance of the lover in Infirmata, vulnerata ("Weak, wounded") is perfectly dramatized by a simple series of repeated notes and a subsequent melody of very narrow range, just what we would expect from one in his condition, while the shadowy, silent world of the even more desperate--and terrified--lover in Ombre tacite e sole is painted by rich-textured strings (who briefly imitate the "trembling of the waves breaking against the shore" and the "cries of beasts"), a minor-key setting, and again, a relatively simple melody that expresses the singer's fear only with its occasional altered notes and frequent wide intervallic skips. There are no heart-rending emotional outbursts or open-throated exclamations here--not even a very fast tempo or fiery orchestral passage.

And that is why this program--which is helpfully balanced with two instrumental sonatas--has a bit of a tedious familiarity to it if taken all at once. And unlike his fluid, facile, golden-toned performance on his Italian Concertos disc (type Q7576 in Search Reviews) this one by super-countertenor Matthew White has a more careful, formal, low-key attitude that's nice for the music but not as engaging for the listener over the course of an hour-long CD. It's pretty and certainly solid on the technical front--and the instrumental-ensemble selections are taut and polished--but, especially from this great singer, I expected more in terms of expressive range and emotional involvement. The sound is vibrant, clear, detailed, and appropriately balanced regarding soloist and instruments.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Ombre tacite e sole by Alessandro Scarlatti
Performer:  Matthew White (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Voix Baroques
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1716; Italy 
2. Infirmata vulnerata by Alessandro Scarlatti
Performer:  Matthew White (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Voix Baroques
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1702; Italy 
3. Bella quanto crudel spietata Irene by Alessandro Scarlatti
Performer:  Matthew White (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Voix Baroques
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1717; Italy 
4. Oh di Betlemme altera povertà "Cantata pastorale" by Alessandro Scarlatti
Performer:  Matthew White (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Voix Baroques
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
Venue:  Saint Augustin-de-Mirabel Church, Quebec 
Length: 15 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Notes: Saint Augustin-de-Mirabel Church, Quebec (10/20/2004 - 10/23/2004) 

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