Tenor arias by Biado, G Caccini, Monteverdi, J Peri, Rasi, etc
Emiliano Gonzalez Toro (tenor); I Gemelli
Naïve V5473 48:57 mins
Many vocal skills we now admire in opera were born in the early 17th century. These performances centre upon the techniques of the early solo singer-composers, wonderfully resurrected here by the ravishing and sometimes mercurial vocal wizardry of the Swiss-Chilean tenor Emiliano Gonzalez Toro – recently acclaimed for his interpretation of the title role in Monteverdi’s Orfeo.
The first singer in that role was Francesco Rasi, and seven of his own songs appear on this disc. Toro gives us the full helter-skelter style of dashing roulades found in Rasi’s ‘Indarno Febo’, and in many of the other songs he is supported by Thomas Dunford’s witty and sometimes darkly inventive accompaniments on the theorbo. Most of these pieces have their vocal decorations written in, but a relatively plain melody like Caccini’s ‘Amarilli’ could (according to Caccini’s own instructions) have benefitted from rather more improvised ornamentation in some of its sections. In Sigismondo d’India’s ‘Amico, hai vinto’ we have a setting of the death scene between Tancredi and Clorina (from a poetic epic by Tasso) which combines narrative, description and direct dialogue, and requires a bit more distinction between the different ‘voicings’ than we get here. That said, exceptional musicianship abounds, notably in the sensitive, varied exchanges between voice and accompaniment in ‘Un di soletto’ by Peri (a very good composer), and in the magnificently stylish exuberance of Monteverdi’s ‘Qual sguardo’.