Carissimi, Caldara, Vivaldi, Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Gluck, Caccini

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Alessandro Scarlatti,Caccini,Caldara,Carissimi,Gluck,Handel,Vivaldi
LABELS: Philips
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Dmitri Hvorostovsky
WORKS: Works by Carissimi, Caldara, Vivaldi, Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Gluck, Caccini,
PERFORMER: Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner
CATALOGUE NO: 456 543-2
If you take the term ‘arie antiche’ to mean the deceptively simple Italian songs of the 17th and 18th centuries that Alessandro Parisotti collected and edited in the 1880s and that almost every young singer will at some time have studied, then this disc will come as a shock. Sure, there are songs by Scarlatti, Carissimi, Giordani, Caldara and Caccini, but perhaps in view of Hvorostovsky’s crossover appeal, some extracts from Handel and Gluck operas have been lobbed in as well. ‘Che farò senza Euridice’ and ‘Ombra mai fù’ may be arias and may be ‘old’, but they don’t fit here. Worse, the echt arie antiche, with their direct melodic lines, have been denied their delicate keyboard accompaniments and larded instead with ludicrously overblown orchestral arrangements, all brash bright trumpets, tinkling continuo and frenetic strings to put one in mind of the ‘Palladio’ cod-Baroque soundtrack to the De Beers commercials.

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Still, one can’t blame the musicians for this mess of a programme, and there is nothing to fault the performances. The Academy play with verve and precision, and Hvorostovsky, whose magnificent voice is as beautiful and burnished as ever, has finally proved himself able to sing in a language other than Russian. Claire Wrathall