Giovanni Felice Sances

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Giovanni Felice Sances
LABELS: ASV Gaudeamus
WORKS: Cantatas, arias and instrumental music
PERFORMER: Musica Fabula
The striking modernity of Giovanni Felice Sances’s (c1600-79) powerfully expressive monody, with Love as the central dramatic theme, is comprehensively celebrated here by Musica Fabula. Asuperb recording brings out the vocal and instrumental characters to marvellous effect and, though Liliana Mazzarri is a little shrill in her highest register, both sopranos unerringly capture the emotional character of the texts with pure-toned, sensuous phrasing and virtuoso ornamentation. The lively syncopated rhythms in ‘Occhi, occhi miei cari’ and ‘Se mille facelle sopporto nel core’ dance infectiously; Sarah Pillow sings with considerable allure in the beautiful soaring melody of the lament ‘Proserpina Gelosa’ and the beguiling low register of ‘Il mio cocente ardore’, and Mazzarri’s lovesick duet with tenor Alastair Hamilton – ‘Lilla bell’e crudele’ – has genuine passion. ‘Rapetemi, feritemi’ and the delicious final duet ‘Occhi sfere vivaci’ present the most enchanting examples of the symbiosis of music and text. Steven Player (guitar) and Jan Walters (harp) provide both stylish accompaniments and exquisite solo performances. A second, vocalise arrangement of ‘Il mio cocente ardore’ – underlining this repertoire’s contemporary feel – provides an intriguing encore. Nicholas Rast