Songs and arias by Cavalli, Dowland, Gibbons, J Marín, Monteverdi, Stradella, etc
Sonya Yoncheva (soprano); Cappella Mediterranea/Leonardo García Alarcón
Sony Classical 19439824022 64:02 mins
Faced with the COVID lockdowns, Sonya Yoncheva and Leonardo Alarcón came up with a practical plan of a ‘rebirth’ born of optimism – an extraordinary smorgasbord of pieces ranging from Monteverdi to ABBA, and from Spain to Bulgaria.
Yoncheva’s voice is justly famous for its rich, languorous tone that has transfigured many passionate roles from Monteverdi’s Poppea to recent heroines on her Handel and Verdi discs, and to her La Scala performances in La bohème. We find the same quality here in the controlled intensity of Stradella’s ‘Questa lagrime’ and in Monteverdi’s ‘S’apre la tomba’ (from Voglio di vita uscir), though in the latter the procession of slow notes is rather stiff and lacks any attempt at inflection through ornamentation.
More playful and characterful is the little Bulgarian folksong ‘Zableyalo’ which nicely tells the story of a lamb looking for its mother (she’s been eaten!), and Yoncheva produces vocal fireworks in Velazco’s ‘Non hay que decir’, an ecstatic celebration of the beauty of a shepherdess. Her attempt at Dowland’s ‘Come again, sweet love’ does not quite capture the light coquettishness of the meaning, but in Gibbons’s ‘The Silver Swan’ (another ‘death’ song) she evokes well the sensibility of the lute song.
The instrumentalists provide superbly intricate playing in Díaz’s ‘Pasajo del olvido’, and the conductor’s ‘Y a tus plantas’ (from his completion of a 17th-century opera) is effective and immediate.