Catone in Utica (1737), written for the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona, is one of Vivaldi’s last operatic masterpieces. Its splendid score, however, has come down to us incomplete: in fact the first of the three acts is missing. With infinite patience, Jean-Claude Malgoire has reconstructed the missing act, realising the recitative passages complying perfectly to Vivaldi’s stylistic idiom and integrating the missing arias with original arias taken from other operas written by the Red Priest. Thus Catone in Utica is at last available, in a world-première recording, in its complete form. This is unquestionably one of the highest moments in Vivaldi’s production of music theatre, a concise and highly efficacious score, rich in coups de théâtre and memorable arias, brought to us now in all its dazzling virtuoso beauty by a formidable singing cast. The recording was made in Turcoing, in France, during the performances given in November 2001 and has all the exciting freshness of a live recording in which the excellence of the performers is underlined by the audience’s enthusiastic applause.
Beata es Maria is made up primarily of vocal music in praise of the Virgin that features three men's voices, a counter tenor, tenor, and bass. It's an especially attractive ensemble, and Charpentier, who is known to have sometimes sung the tenor parts, knew how to make the vocal lines terrifically appealing. The Magnificat that opens the album beautifully illustrates his skill in taking a much-used convention the chaconne, with a harmonic progression that (the composer reports) repeats 89 times and keeping it endlessly intriguing with his inventive handling of the voices.