Boccherini: Arias

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Boccherini
LABELS: Koch Schwann
WORKS: Arias
PERFORMER: Adelina Scarabelli (soprano); Sonorum Concentus Rome/Federico Amendola
CATALOGUE NO: 3-1525-2
Never take Boccherini for granted. The first three of these concert arias, all settings of Metastasio from around 1790, go through the motions with unruffled elegance, their music blithely at odds with the desperate sentiments of the texts. Then in the shapely, sensuous lines of the fourth aria, ‘Caro, son tua così’, a lovesong in the traditionally ‘amorous’ key of A major, we hear Boccherini’s distinctive grace and morbidezza. Even better is the next number, ‘Misera! Dove son?’, a D minor outburst of grief and indignation worthy of Mozart’s Electra or Donna Anna – and, incidentally, more impassioned by far than Mozart’s own, urbane, setting of the same text (K369). The remaining two arias also make their mark, the one predominantly soulful, the other a brilliant E flat display piece full of rollicking horn calls.

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Though she doesn’t quite command the vocal allure – and the absolute technical security – these arias ideally require, Adelina Scarabelli acquits herself well enough, especially in her fiery, involving performance of ‘Misera! Dove son?’. The accompaniments (on modern instruments) are no more than routine, with some distinctly raw string tone; and the recording, made in the cavernous acoustic of the Oratorio del Gonfalone in Rome, is uncomfortably close, occasionally to the point of distortion. Still, Boccherini fans and collectors of 18th-century vocal rarities should investigate this disc, above all for the magnificent ‘Misera! Dove son?’ Richard Wigmore