Arias by Caldara, Albinoni, Gabrielli, Vivaldi, Handel and Porpora; plus Boccherini: Cello Concerto In D, Op. 34
Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano), Sol Gabetta (cello); Cappella Gabetta/Andrés Gabetta (violin)
Decca 483 2473
Despite its sugary title and frothy cover, this disc features music-making of the highest order and a rigorously researched programme of Baroque arias with obbligato cello – a sweet duel (or ‘dolce duello’) between the human voice and the then young instrument, oft praised for its vocal qualities. Long-term friends and colleagues, mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli and cellist Sol Gabetta make for valiant duelling partners who converse, parry and riposte in spirited combat.
Bartoli is velvet-toned, vivacious and voluptuous as ever. Her diction is sharp as a sabre; attack and intonation are spot on target. Add to that a gamut of vocal timbres, colours and an expressive quiver and you have an intoxicating mix. Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta has an equally flawless technique, drawing lyrical lines with her Baroque bow and cello (a 1759 gut-string Guadagnini). Led by her violinist brother Andrés Gabetta, the ensemble Cappella Gabetta offers lithe and stylish support.
The disc includes three world premiere recordings: Porpora’s mellifluous entreaty to the god of love, ‘Giusto Amor’, from a chamber serenata, and two settings of Apostolo Zeno by Antonio Caldara: ‘Fortuna e speranza’ (an achingly lovely ‘duel’ of conflicting emotions) and the virtuoso quick-fire aria ‘Tanto, e con si gran piena’, where solo violin joins in the sparring.
Other highlights include Handel’s liquid setting of Dryden’s ‘What passion cannot music raise and quell’ from a piece that perhaps has a personal resonance for ‘La Bartoli’: the Ode for St Cecilia’s Day. Here, voice and cello are reconciled in a harmony of opposites.
Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.