A ubiquitous Viennese figure in the early 1700s, Francesco Conti was one of several gifted Italian Baroque composers who settled in foreign lands. If Caldara remains the most durable Italian figure in Vienna, Conti's star — on this evidence — deserves to be dusted down and given a second chance. These four cantatas from eight Cantate am istromenti probably date from the first decade of the century and feature the most delectable plethora of obbligato instruments imaginable.
A superb Rossini rarity receives an idiomatic account. Cecilia Gasdia is a touching Zelmira, and William Matteuzzi as her lover Ilo is in fine fettle. –- BBC Music Magazine
the register for William Matteuzzi as Ilio is very high indeed. It is creditable that he makes it all sound so easy and natural as he soars into the stratosphere. Cecilia Gasdia is also completely unfazed by all the difficulties in the title role…Bernarda Fink is superlative. –-MusicWeb International
Rare recordings of two settings of Mary’s passionate Easter lament. For their second L’Oiseau Lyre disc, Il Giardino Armonico, again under their director Giovanni Antonini, are joined by celebrated mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink, for a project exploring the Passion of Christ as seen through the eyes of the Virgin Mary. The two central works are both vocal settings of the Virgin’s lament. The first, Il Pianto di Maria, was long thought to be by Handel – a clear reflection of its outstanding musical quality. It was not until the 1990s that handwriting experts established it as the work of the little-known Venetian composer Giovanni Ferrandini. The other key vocal work will be the World Premiere recording of an aria by Francesco Conti – composer to the Habsburg court of Vienna - in which the martyr Lorenzo, threatened with being burnt alive, refuses to deny his Christian faith. This deeply touching aria features a rarely heard ancestor of the modern clarinet, frequently used in ‘pathetic’ arias of the period – the soprano chalumeau. Short instrumental pieces form a musical setting around these vocal jewels, and include music by Caldara, Marini, Pisendel, Weiss and Vivaldi.
Don Pasquale is among the last of Donizetti’s sixty-six completed operas. After the successful premiere of Linda di Chamounix in Vienna in May 1842. Donizetti made his way to Milan, hoping to get a new libretto for a comic opera for Paris. He actually started on a work called ‘Ne m’oubliez pas’ (do not forget me) before abandoning it when he got the commission to write a comic opera for the Théâtre Italien. Giovanni Ruffini, an Italian political exile living in Paris, wrote the libretto based on a previous opera by Pavesi. Donizetti was not happy with Ruffini’s verses and made changes of his own to the extent that his librettist refused to attach his name to the printed libretto.