Cavalli: Ercole amante

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Ercole amante
PERFORMER: Ulrik Cold, Yvonne Minton, Felicity Palmer, Patricia Miller, Colette Alliot-Lugaz; English Bach Festival Chorus & Baroque Orchestra/Michel Corboz
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-12980-2 ADD Reissue
Written for the marriage of Louis XIV of France (who appeared in the first performance dressed, appropriately, as the sun) in 1662, this earnest Herculean tragedy was commissioned to flatter the king and therefore conceived on a much grander scale than Cavalli’s delightful Venetian operas. Structurally it’s unwieldy (long, too, though this recording omits the ballets Lully added), but it does contain some glorious music – especially the magnificent polychoral ensembles and orchestral sinfonias and ritornellos – and this 1981 recording makes a persuasive case for it. Corboz assembled a consistently fine cast, though some of the voices are rather fruity for so early a work. The choral singing is outstanding, and the orchestra plays assertively, producing a rich, robust and vibrant tone. Claire Wrathall