D Scarlatti: Lettere amorose: cantatas, sonatas & operatic duets

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: D Scarlatti
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Lettere amorose: cantatas, sonatas & operatic duets
PERFORMER: Patrizio Ciofi (soprano), Anna Bonitatibus (mezzo-soprano); Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 5 45546 2
A warm welcome to a disc which makes an effective gesture towards interrelating the vocal and instrumental music of Domenico Scarlatti. Alan Curtis has devised a characteristically interesting programme of three chamber cantatas and two opera duets interspersed with three groups of harpsichord sonatas. About 50 well-authenticated cantatas have come down to us, most of them probably dating from Scarlatti’s years in Rome between 1708 and 1719. But the three pieces included here, strikingly linked by their subject matter into a correspondence between parted lovers, come from a later Vienna manuscript, all of whose eight cantatas are scored for soprano/ mezzo-soprano, two violins and continuo. Patrizia Ciofi and Anna Bonitatibus have pleasing, fresh-sounding voices, clear declamation and lively responses to the anonymous texts in the form of love letters. Notwithstanding occasional, very slight tonal insecurities, their performances bring to life the animated correspondence with inflective charm and stylistic finesse.

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Curtis’s approach to the Sonatas – he plays a fine instrument modelled on the mid-18th-century French harpsichords of Blanchet – is distinctive above all for his bold and mainly convincing ornamentation of repeats. I can think of few players who dare to get their feet as wet as this but it is executed with aplomb and stylistic propriety.

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A stimulating release which serves the vocal and instrumental aspects of Scarlatti’s art uncommonly well. The apposite and beautiful painting reproduced on the cover calls to mind Chardin but is, in fact, by a Veronese contemporary of Scarlatti. Nicholas Anderson