ALBUM TITLE: Cherubini
WORKS: Arias and Overtures from Il Giulio Sabino; Ifigenia in Aulide; Armida abbandonata etc
PERFORMER: Maria Grazia Schiavo (soprano); Auser Musici/Carlo Ipata
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67893
The Italian-born, later French-based Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842) remains one of the great musical unknowns of his period. Beethoven admired him, but these days we hear little of his music. This disc focuses on the earlier part of his career – his Italian operas written for Italy and, in the case of Giulio Sabino (1786), for London – ending with his first major French success, Démophon (1788).
It includes arias from various operas, including an insertion aria for Salieri’s La grotta di Trofonio, and reveals the nobility and strength of his best ideas. Yet neither the Auser Musici nor soloist Maria Grazia Schiavo match the fluency and expertise of his ornate vocal writing.
Schiavo struggles in the more difficult passages and her thin, wiry voice is not flattered by the recorded sound, which lacks substance and focus. Like Schiavo, the orchestral players are determined, though the upper strings need to attend more to tone and intonation.