Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Arias and Cantatas
PERFORMER: Johanna Stojkovic´ (soprano), Bernarda Fink (alto), Gerd Türk, Jeremy Ovenden (tenor), Martin Snell (bass); Concerto Vocale/René Jacobs
The Dresden composer Caspar Kittel – a pupil and friend of Heinrich Schütz – was one of the finest singing teachers of his day. If the music on this disc is representative of his virtuosity, the treatise he intended to write before his untimely death at the age of 36 would certainly have been among the best guides to the vocal practice of the period. As it is, the Arias and Cantatas (1638) are all that survive of this highly gifted musician. With the 11 pieces on this disc (the printed collection contains 30 songs), René Jacobs and his musicians present a fine display of 17th-century monody – a style more usually associated with Peri and Caccini.


The instruments and voices are ideally balanced in these vivid accounts of texts by Martin Opitz (an exact contemporary of the composer) and Kuefstein, aptly matching this repertoire’s technical and expressive demands. Whether in the broadly sung musical depiction of physical beauty in Aria I, the breathtaking florid embellishments in the absorbing delineation of love’s progression from summertime contentment to death in Aria VI, or the dark-hued nocturnal atmosphere of Aria XI, Jacobs and his team paint Kittel’s exquisite musical scenes with captivating eloquence. Nicholas Rast