The two Johann Adolf Hasse compositions recorded here are proof of the both high quality of his music and the broad range of styles which he had at his disposal. Once again Hans-Christoph Rademann offers an exemplary interpretation of music from the Court of Dresden, to which he has often dedicated his musical efforts.
“Under the direction of Hans-Christoph Rademann the Dresdner Barockorchester and the superb Chamber Choir bring a homogeneous, lean performance which follows integrally the gesture of the text and provides many moving moments. Thus with its penetrating tone language this live recording brings to life two unjustly forgotten masterworks of the 18th century.”
Allegri's early Baroque masterpiece Miserere from around 1630 movingly juxtaposes modal chant with tonality, and was so popular that the Vatican refused to allow it to be performed anywhere else - until the 14 year old Mozart broke the Vatican's monopoly by writing it down from memory after attending a performance. Pergolesi's late Baroque masterpiece Stabat Mater for soprano and alto dates from 1736, the year of his death at the age of 26. It was originally written for male voices but since it's hard to find a castrato these days, it's generally performed by two women or by a female soprano and counter-tenor. This performance uses a female alto but in other respects it's very much a period performance - the sound is intimate and the tempos are lively without any sacrifice of spiritual depth. The soloists, soprano Monika Frimmer and alto Gloria Banditelli, sing beautifully without overdoing the vibrato, and their voices are well matched. The disk also contains a brief "Sonata a quattro" by Vivaldi, and another setting of the Stabat Mater, by the late Baroque composer Antonio Caldara from around 1725.(Kenneth Dorter)
Cimarosa was an expert at writing lighthearted opera buffa that zipped along. Much of this music sounds very much like his better known IL Matrimonio Segreto, coming clearly out of the same stable, but it has its distinctive elements. Here the forces of the Festival Valle D'Itria come up with a sparkling production. The singing and the orchestra come across as excellent, the conductor Eric Hull keeping things moving with a light touch that keeps it all together. The singers keep the music zipping along, and when it turns more serious, Alla Simonischvili, the lead soprano, and the others handle it well. Well recorded, especially considering that apparently we have some sort of mixture of only two straight-through live performances, and well performed this set offers a good deal of pleasure if not any profound musical experience. I found it worth hearing and having . The booklet gives the libretto with English translation and a useful essay.Amazon.com
Thanks to his omnivorous curiosity, conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt has revived an authentic masterpiece. Several opera composers–Lully, Handel, and Gluck–had already availed themselves of the amorous and stormy adventures of the knight Rinaldo and the enchantress Armida, drawn from Tasso's Jerusalem Liberated. Composed in 1784, Haydn's Armida was his the final opera he wrote for his patron Prince Esterházy, but it was also the composer's debut opera seria. Even so–and just like Mozart–Haydn knew how to free himself from the rigid and monotonous alternation of aria and recitative that customarily governed this genre. Thus the final act, which unfolds in an enchanted forest, offers us a half-hour of nearly uninterrupted music, even prefiguring the romantic shape of things to come in the 19th century. This recording was made from a concert performance in June 2000 in Vienna's sumptuous Musikverein under the blazing baton of Harnoncourt. The cast is impeccable–including Christoph Prégardien and Patricia Petibon and dominated by the stunning Cecilia Bartoli, who can swerve within a few bars from boiling anger to the most overwhelming amorous pleading.(Franck Erikson)
Mayr had already earned esteem in Venice for his church music when, in 1802, he assumed the post of maestro di cappella at the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo. With a modest orchestra at his disposal he soon composed a Miserere in G minor, in which solo orchestral instruments often carry on a dialogue with the vocal soloists in a succession of powerful, descriptive and beautiful arias and choruses. The Litaniae Lauretanae, cast in three parts, features wide leaping figures and sighing melodies. Conductor Franz Hauk has been responsible for re-establishing the music of Johann Simon Mayr, one of the most significant operatic and vocal composers resident in Italy before the rise of Rossini.
Antwerp's Opera Vlaanderen continues its Rossini opera cycle with this production of his rarely performed Armida, conducted by Alberto Zedda. The work features no less than four tenors in the leading roles, taken here by the commanding voices of Enea Scala, Robert McPherson, Dario Schmunck and the young rising star, Adam Smith.
Stage director Mariame Clément teams up once more for Opera Vlaanderen with set designer Julia Hansen, building on their successful production of Cavalli's Il Giasone. Here they take a critical look at the world of the Crusades. Clément sees Armida as the incarnation of the magical concept of ‘love’, for which noble and heroic knightly ideals are cast aside, turning love into a destructive frenzy.