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Facce d’amore

Jakub Józef Orliński (countertenor); Il Pomo d’oro/Maxim Emelyanychev (Erato)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Facce d’amore
Countertenor arias by Cavalli, Boretti, Bononcini, A Scarlatti, Handel et al
Jakub Józef Orliński (countertenor); Il Pomo d’oro/Maxim Emelyanychev
Erato 9029542338   73:55 mins

Breakdancer, model, acrobat, and James Dean lookalike, Jakub Józef Orliński is also emerging as one of the finest countertenors on the musical scene today. Facce d’amore paints the volatile faces of love in Italian Baroque opera, threading together one pearl after another. Alongside some of Handel’s most poignant and dramatic arias are eight world premieres – ravishing works by all-but-forgotten composers who give Handel more than a run for his money. The disc is a masterpiece of sleuthing and programming.

Orliński vaunts an impressive technique: intonation, diction and breath-control are nigh flawless, and he breezes through the vocal fireworks. While his voice is intimate, its expressive range is ample: he rends the heart in Handel’s ‘Pena tiranna’ and vacillates from dark fury to lucid tenderness in the mad scene from Orlando. The revelations of this disc, though, lie in the arias by Bononcini, Conti and Predieri. To the drifting melody of Bononcini’s ‘Infelice mia costanza’, Orliński brings a hauntingly stark tone. He bewitches in Predieri’s ‘Finché salvo’, casting lyrical lines over a throbbing accompaniment. Originally written for the virtuoso castrato Antonio Bernacchi, for whom Handel also composed, the aria shows off Orliński’s resonant lower range. Then there’s Conti’s furious vengeance aria ‘Odio, vendetta, amore’ – a vocal breakdance, with athletic leaps from high to low, which Orliński whirls through effortlessly, backed by gutsy playing. By way of an interlude, Nicola Matteis’s Ballo dei Bagaltellieri is a colourful instrumental romp complete with exotic percussion, flamboyantly realised by Il Pomo d’oro. The whole sequence is simply captivating.

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Kate Bolton-Porciatti