WORKS: Chamber works by Gragnaniello, Legrenzi, Merula, Monteverdi, Rossi, Sances, Anonymous
PERFORMER: Nuria Rial (soprano), Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor); Barbara Furtuna (vocal quartet); L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar
CATALOGUE NO: 694 5770
I was impressed by Teatro d’Amore, L’Arpeggiata’s debut on Virgin last year, finding their approach to Monteverdi admirably elegant and respectful without being a slave to convention.
This time, Austrian-born harpist and lutenist Christina Pluhar directs her French-based ensemble through a programme of 17th-century Italian works mixed with traditional music from Italy and Corsica. Again, the sound they make is gorgeous, lush in texture, with splendid performances from soprano Nuria Rial and countertenor Philippe Jaroussky.
The male vocal quartet, Barbara Furtana, handles the folk tradition, and although their repertoire rests on anonymous pieces, these are all songs with graceful melodies that any composer would be happy to put their name to, and the quartet furnishes them with harmonies that are languidly lovely yet with an astringent edge.
Like the vocalists, the instrumentalists of L’Arpeggiata perform with an affective sincerity that is undiminished by the clarity of articulation. The official lynchpins of the recital are Sances’s Stabat Mater and Merula’s Hor ch’è Tempo di dormire, but the standard of all the works included, whether attributed or anonymous, is so high that these compositions do not disrupt the overall flow of the album. Barry Witherden