Caldara, A Scarlatti, Vivaldi & Zelenka

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COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti,Caldara,Vivaldi & Zelenka
LABELS: Analekta
ALBUM TITLE: Italian Oratorios
WORKS: Works by Caldara, A Scarlatti, Vivaldi & Zelenka
PERFORMER: Matthew White (countertenor); Tafelmusik/Jeanne Lamon
This disc is foremost an attractively dressed shop window for the accomplished Canadian countertenor Matthew White. But his contributions are sensibly interspersed with instrumental pieces, three of which belong to the works from which White’s arias have been drawn. The fourth, a Concerto for ripieno strings by Vivaldi (RV 114) is the only free-standing instrumental item. It is among the most invigorating of the composer’s concerti a quattro with a dynamic opening movement characterised by dotted rhythms and a concluding one in the form of an alluring chaconne. Tafelmusik’s performance is an enlivening affair, warm in sound and polished in ensemble. The vocal arias, all from oratorios, come from works that are currently available from other performers in complete versions on CD. White has chosen them thoughtfully, with a view to achieving a wide range of affective contrast. Only the two arias from Vivaldi’s Juditha triumphans are at all well known. One of them, ‘Noli, o cara’, belongs to Nebuchadnezzar’s lustful general Holofernes, the other, ‘Agitata infido flatu diu’, to the eponymous heroine. This last-mentioned is touchingly sung by White with a tenderly expressed and well-balanced obbligato contribution from oboist John Abberger and organist Charlotte Nediger. Among other vocal highlights are a lively, expressively forward-looking aria ‘A che riserbano’ from Zelenka’s Gesù al Calvario and a contemplative, well-sustained one from Caldara’s La Passione di Gesù Cristo Signor Nostro. There is also a free bonus disc featuring samples from Analekta’s current catalogue, including music by Bach, Handel, Graupner, Domenico Scarlatti, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Saint-Saëns and Kreisler. Nicholas Anderson