COMPOSERS: Grandi Legrenzi Cavalli Rigati Caprioli Frescobaldi Sances Bassani Mattioli Casati Colonna
ALBUM TITLE: Beata Vergine
WORKS: Italian Motets
PERFORMER: Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor); Marie-Nicole Lemieux (mezzo-soprano); Ensemble Artaserse
CATALOGUE NO: 344 7112
Marian devotion inspired an extraordinary outpouring of sacred vocal works during the Baroque period, above all in Italy where mamma has always been something of a cult figure. Divine rhapsody combines with earthy sensuousness in this heady selection, which includes virtuoso solos and operatic-style duets, intricately embellished devotional arias, quasi-erotic settings of the Songs of Songs and reflective laments.
Philippe Jaroussky’s countertenor is the perfect medium for this repertoire, its naïve, androgynous quality creating an aptly ethereal atmosphere. He combines poise and purity of tone to spell-binding effect in a hypnotic setting of the Stabat mater by Giovanni Sances, while his subtle technique and vocal agility allow him to negotiate more elaborate vocal lines with exquisite grace. Even in the most overtly virtuosic pieces, like Rigatti’s Regina coeli laetare or Bassani’s Corda lingua, Jaroussky never shows signs of strain or of forcing the voice. He’s joined in a couple of numbers by the voluptuous contralto of Marie-Nicole Lemieux, their two voices contrasted to heighten a sense of gender ambiguity. The instrumentalists of Ensemble Artaserse – sensitively balanced in the stereo picture – provide discrete and eloquent support throughout. All in all, a beguiling disc. Kate Bolton