Giulio Cesare: A Baroque Hero
Arias by Handel, Bianchi, Piccinni, Giacomelli and Pollarolo
Raffaele Pe (countertenor), Raffaella Lupinacci (mezzo-soprano); La Lira di Orfeo/Luca Giardini
Glossa GCD 923516 70:47 mins
Raffaele Pe studied in Lodi, London and Bologna, and as a countertenor he has gained a strong reputation in the last few years in concert and opera performances given by the likes of John Eliot Gardiner, Claudio Cavina and Paul McCreesh. This is his latest disc and, assisted by the research of the musicologist Valentina Anzani, it explores the character of Julius Caesar through selected arias from stage works by several Baroque composers. Additionally the collection includes one piece for Ariodante and one duet for Sextus and Cornelia (in which Pe is ably complemented by the mezzo Raffaella Lupinacci).
Pe’s voice is strong and clear-toned. He shows agility in the long runs of Pollarolo’s ‘Sdegnoso turbine’ and Handel’s ‘Al lampo’ (notwithstanding a slightly unsteady beat in the latter), and his decorations of the vocal line are bravely inventive. He projects the tender aspects of Caesar’s character well (Piccinni’s ‘Spargi omai’), though the imperious elements (Giacomelli’s ‘Il cor’) require a little more ‘edge’ and fire. The orchestra is spirited but sometimes untidy (Piccinni’s ‘Spargi omai’). Even so, this is a fascinating collection, and Pe engages commendably with such a range of music originally written for so many different voices.