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Antonio Vivaldi Opera Arias and Sinfonias Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

...catching the mood of each aria perfectly.

Claire Rogers 2007

Vivaldi has long been regarded primarily as a composer of concertos, yet, although his debut as an operatic composer didn’t happen until he was 35, from that point on he was equally prolific in both fields. Performances of his operas today are still a real rarity, so the arias on this excellent disc, some of which have never been recorded before, offer our only insight into what might be expected from this relatively overlooked area of Vivaldi’s output.

Of the many pleasing aspects of this CD, foremost is the virtuoso singing of Emma Kirkby, a soprano long-associated with the best in Baroque and early music vocal performance. Her arias are taken from a range of different operas, and are interspersed with orchestral Sinfonias, or operatic overtures, stylishly played by the Brandenburg Consort. These are full of lively and beautifully crafted playing, all with that lovely sheen period stringed instruments bring to their sound.

There’s never really a dull moment. Emma Kirkby copes with the challenges of Vivaldi’s incredibly demanding vocal writing with style, catching the mood of each aria perfectly. In the storm-tossed tr.5 (from Griselda) she negotiates the difficult wide leaps and agitated rapid fire passages admirably, as is the case with tr.10 from Ottone in villa. By contrast, her captivating performance of the lamenting tr.11 is haunted by distant echoes and trills, and sudden, fleeting changes of mood and tempo, all excellently managed by conductor Roy Goodman. Highly atmospheric again is tr.17 (from Catone in Utica) with its muted violins and pizzicato violas, while in the lovely tr.6 aria (from Tito Manlioi) a solo oboe beautifully interweaves with and compliments Kirkby’s vocal line throughout. Finally trumpets bring a touch of brilliance to both the Sinfonia to Tamerlano and the closing track, where with the help of the drums the disc is brought to a fitting and stirring end.

This is a well thought-out recording, full of lovely moments. It’s the kind of CD I can imagine listeners returning to time and time again. A real treat.

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