COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti and Vivaldi,Arias by Arne,Boyce,Caldara,Conti,Galliard,Gasparini,Handel
WORKS: Arias by Arne, Boyce, Caldara, Conti, Galliard, Gasparini, Handel, A Scarlatti and Vivaldi
PERFORMER: Ian Bostridge (tenor); The English Consort/Bernard Labadie
CATALOGUE NO: EMI 626 8642
Despite the disc’s trashy title, all its contents are attractive. Three 18th-century tenors, the Italians Francesco Borosini and Annibale Pio Fabri and the Englishman John Beard, are here largely remembered for the parts Handel wrote for them in his operas and (in Beard’s case alone) oratorios; but Ian Bostridge’s collection of arias – including six new to disc – displays the prowess of each singer in works by other leading contemporary composers as well, notably Vivaldi, Alessandro Scarlatti, Caldara (a beautifully sober aria from the oratorio Joaz), Arne and Boyce (the magical ‘Softly rise’ from the serenata Solomon).
It’s a rich collection, imaginatively adumbrating the talents of three master-singers of different vocal types and weights united by superior technique and musicianship. I’m not persuaded that Bostridge’s choral-scholar tone production, want of tenorially ringing top notes and schoolboyish over-eagerness to dress up verbal meaning do justice to all the pieces equally. Nevertheless, his conviction subdues criticism, and the English Concert’s accompaniments are splendid. Max Loppert