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Maria Savastano and Ensemble Diderot perform cantatas for soprano by Ristori

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Cantatas for soprano: Lavinia a Turno; Didone abbandonata; Nice a Tirsi; Oboe Concerto
Maria Savastano (soprano), Jon Olaberria (oboe); Ensemble Diderot/Johannes Pramsohler
Audax Records ADX 13711


Ensemble Diderot has previously doffed its cap to the Dresden Court on disc, taking its cue from Handel’s visit in 1719. Among the composers represented was the little-known Frantisek Ignác Antonín Tùma, and this repeat flourish rehabilitates another under-sung hero. A younger contemporary of JS Bach, the Italian-born Giovanni Alberto Ristori served the Elector’s Hofkapelle for nigh on 40 years, and the three cantatas setting texts by the Princess Maria Antonia of Bavaria are late works; beneficiaries, arguably, of an ear-opening spell in Naples a decade earlier when two of his operas were presented at the San Carlo theatre.

Each cantata invokes a feisty woman wracked by the torments of thwarted love. Two of them draw on Virgil’s Aeneid; and all are exuberantly operatic, sporting well-turned arias that sometimes fall back on cliché but detonate turbulent fireworks as required, and elaborately detailed recitatives affording Johannes Pramsohler’s crack instrumentalists a heightened share in the unfolding dramas.

Soprano María Savastano combines smouldering fury with sovereign presence (step forward Dido’s ‘Quante volte’), though the volatile emotional ebb and flow can be under-modulated in places. After all the anguished breast-beating, a genial oboe concerto, genially despatched by Jon Olaberria, restores benign equilibrium.


Paul Riley