Conversazioni I

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COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti,Albinoni,Caldara,D Scarlatti,Handel
WORKS: Cantatas by Albinoni, Caldara, Handel, A Scarlatti, D Scarlatti
PERFORMER: Andrew Radley (countertenor); Sounds Baroque/Julian Perkins


What do Caldara, Albinoni, Handel and the Scarlattis (father and son) have in common? The patronage of the seriously-cultivated Cardinal Ottoboni whose regular ‘Conversazioni’ get-togethers flooded Rome with musical treats. At a deeper level they also maintained a sort of musical ‘conversation’ as composers encountered and responded to the latest compositional talking points. This debut disc from Sounds Baroque draws up a ringside seat and delves into the lovelorn world of the secular dramatic cantata with compelling specimens by Caldara and Alessandro Scarlatti, (the Albinoni is less ear-catching).


It also includes two of Handel’s best-known cantatas: Mi palpita il cor and Vedendo amor, blessed with an aria as seductive as anything Handel penned for the operatic stage. Its final recitativo is dispatched with aplomb, making harpsichordist Julian Perkins’s buttoned-up fastidiousness in the solo pieces that follow seem all the more unexpected. (Domencio Scarlatti’s so-called ‘Cat’s Fugue’ places its paws very deliberately, every step of the way.) Andrew Radley’s warm, nimble countertenor invariably crafts a shapely vocal line, though he doesn’t always inhabit the Italian words to exploit their fullest colouristic potential. With delightfully expressive woodwind ‘conversations’ topping and tailing the disc, classy continuo, and deftly imaginative programming, Sounds Baroque proves a stylish ornament to the most discerning Cardinal’s Court. Roll on Conversazioni Vol. 2! Paul Riley