Purcell; Mazzocchi; Rossi; Lambert; Charpentier; Rameau etc

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COMPOSERS: Purcell; Mazzocchi; Rossi; Lambert; Charpentier; Rameau etc
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Le Jardin des Voix
WORKS: Various arias
PERFORMER: Amel Brahim-Djelloul, Claire Debono, Judith Van Wanroij (soprano), Xavier Sabata (countertenor), Andrew Tortise (tenor), André Morsch (baritone), Konstantin Wolff (bass-baritone); Les Arts Florissants/William Christie
CATALOGUE NO: 338 1542
‘The garden of voices’ is the name of the scheme whereby William Christie nurtures the budding vocal skills of trainee singers – on this occasion three sopranos together with a countertenor, tenor, baritone and bass. This is a live recording of their concert in Caen, which explains the odd bump and some minor problems of balance.

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Among the sopranos Amel Brahim-Djelloul is the most impressive: in Mozart’s ‘Al chiaror’, for example, she displays agility, an attractive tone and a stunning top E. Claire Debono and Judith Van Wanroij also have merit; the former with a confident if slightly brittle voice (in Purcell’s Indian Queen), and the latter with a feel for complex phrasing (in Charpentier’s Vénus et Adonis) though her voice is airy in the lower range. Xavier Sabata might make a good comic countertenor (though Handel’s Amadigi was a little beyond him), the baritone André Morsch blended well in ensemble (though he cannot sing a descrescendo), and the bass Konstantin Wolff is clear and characterful. The tenor Andrew Tortise has dramatic flair but his voice and tuning are rather raw. Harsh words for some, but they all contribute to a marvellously spirited event enhanced by some exquisite instrumental playing. Anthony Pryer