JC Bach: La Dolce Fiamma

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COMPOSERS: JC Bach
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: La dolce fiamma: castrato arias from La clemenza di Scipione, Artaserse, Sentimi, non partir…Al mio bene, Orfeo ed Euridice, Carattaco, Ebben si vada…Io ti lascio & Temistocle
PERFORMER: Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor); Le Cercle de l’Harmonie/Jérémie Rhorer
CATALOGUE NO: Virgin 694 5640

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Philippe Jaroussky’s latest solo recital focuses on JC Bach, Johann Sebastian’s youngest son and a key figure of mid-18th century opera. Resident in London for the final 20 years of his life, he was the only Bach to show lifelong theatrical interest. His operatic works deserve to be more widely known, but until now only his last opera, Amadis de Gaule, has been recorded in full. In one sense he was the bridge between the period’s two operatic titans, Gluck and Mozart.

These soprano items from his most famous Italian works show how much more his music has to offer: fresh, natural-sounding melody, voice-flattering orchestration and vocal writing that bespeaks total mastery. ‘Cara, la dolce fiamma’ from Adriano in Siria, the CD’s longest item, would do honour to Lucio Silla or even Idomeneo.

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Jaroussky, a countertenor of exceptional artistry and musicianly skill, especially good at fast-moving ornamental flourishes, lacks the fully-fleshed soprano to do complete justice to this side of Bach. But since his disc is imaginatively conceived and brilliantly supported by the French band under Jérémie Rhorer, it merits a warm welcome nonetheless. Max Loppert