A gem of a session from Italian guitarist Franco Cerri — recording here at the end of the 50s with a well-titled batch of European jazz stars ! The groups shift slightly throughout the set, and players include Lars Gullin on baritone sax, Flavio Ambrosetti on alto, George Gruntz on piano, and Pierre Favre on drums ! The album features one trio track, three quartet numbers, three quintet tunes, and one sextet cut — all of them with Cerri's illuminating single-line work on guitar — sounding especially nice next to the horns. Ambrosetti is a real treat here — a sharp-edged player we'd never heard before, working with a strong undercurrent of soul that we really appreciate.
Countertenor performances of 19th century opera are a historical and, ultimately, true novelty. This said, for those who love the sound of the countertenor voice and want to give it a try, there are several factors that recommend this release by countertenor Franco Fagioli, with the small orchestra Armonia Atenea under George Petrou. First is that castrati were still around in Rossini's time, although on the decline, and the composer was reportedly intrigued by their voices. Second, Fagioli, unlike the vast majority of other countertenors, studied bel canto singing rather than Baroque repertory exclusively, and a certain distance present in the work of other countertenors is absent here. And third, and most important, is Fagioli's voice itself. Of the countertenors active today, he's the one with the range, the power, the attitude to make you suspend disbelief and think for a moment that you're actually listening to a castrato. He enters into the various Rossini roles represented on this recording, several of which were mezzo-soprano "pants" roles; this adds to the layers of identity-switching happening, and the parts hit Fagioli's vocal sweet spot. A bonus is that several of these are from Rossini opere serie that are little played or recorded.
Gluck composed “Ezio” only one year after the success of “Orfeo”. It was premiered in 1763 at the Burgtheatre in Vienna. Although not as successful as “Orfeo” it contains many fine moments and this recording, in which Michael Hofstetter conducts a first rate cast, should introduce more opera listeners to this fine work. “….the representation of his (Gluck’s) early and middle years is patchy. All the more fitting then, to be able to welcome a thoroughly satisfactory issue of Ezio….. It is greatly to the credit of countertenor Franco Fagioli, who sings the part (Ezio, sung by the famous castrato Guadagni in the première) in this recording, that there is no sense of anticlimax: he produces firm, expressive singing, with delicacy where appropriate.” (International Record Review)
Beautiful work from Franco Cerri — a really unique guitar jazz session that features his talents in a host of different settings ! The players vary throughout the set — so that one number only features a duo with bass, but others feature larger lineups that include Gianni Basso on tenor, Dino Piana on trombone, Oscar Valdambrini on trumpet, Renato Sellani on piano, and Giancarlo Barigozzi on flute – all key Italian players of the 60s who really get room to sparkle on the record! Cerri's tone runs from smoothly jazzy on the group numbers to a bit more raw and personal on some of the more stripped-down ones – and titles include "Chit Car", "Blues For Jo", "Bassezza", "New Nova", "Stardust", and "Blues Dei Framasteni".
Lisa Lynne Franco has recorded some brilliant material under five different guises. Her earliest work was as Lisa Franco. She recorded three CDs for the German Innovative Communications label. Romantic Dreams might be her best CD. The entire album speaks greatness with every note. Peter Seiler produced the CD and co-wrote four of the nine original pieces. He wrote one of the two bonus tracks. He also accompanies Franco's harp with his keyboards. This CD represents his best work, too. His gentle atmospheres surround her aggressive style like billowing clouds and fluffy pillows. The beauty of the atmospheres is breathtaking. There are no appropriate comparisons for this masterwork. It stands alone - a true sign of greatness.
The world-premiere recording of Siroe re di Persia by Johann Adolf Hasse, whose music encapsulates the refined aristocratic cultural tastes of the European Ancien Régime. Offering true musical fireworks and delights, Siroe is led by Max Cencic in the title role with the vital orchestra of Armonia Atenea and their high-powered conductor, George Petrou: the same vibrant partnership which saw their first album on Decca, Handel’s Alessandro, win a clutch of top awards. Renowned for his gifts as a melodist, in Siroe Hasse offers a feast of rare vocal delights in the telling of a vivid story of passion, jealousy and intrigue…
Franco Battiato is one of the most successful singers in Italy. He began his career as a "light" singer, recording a few singles. In 1971 he started his particular journey through experimental music, recording his proggiest issues: "Fetus", "Pollution", "Sulle corde di Aries". Some very atmospheric parts and some very melodic songs make these records worthwhile, along with musical references to the arabic culture and italian folk that will surface from time to time in all of his following output. His next records are gradually more and more experimental, exploring minimalism and culminating with "L' Egitto prime delle Sabbie", with two long pieces based on hardly one note and its harmonics.
With “Ezio”, composed one year after his pioneering “Orfeo”, Gluck composed an opera seria that cannot be classified to the Gluck reform operas. Based on a libretto by Metastasio, “Ezio” premiered on December 26, 1763 at the Vienna Burgtheater. Although the opera partakes of traditional opera seria methods, an approach that reflects a new aesthetic is also perceptible, such as the tightening of the da capo arias and reduction of the overture to a one-movement sinfonia. In 2007, the orchestra of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele took a further step in the direction of stylistic authenticity and musical refinement, making it one of Europe’s top ensembles in the area of 18th century music.