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COMPOSERS: Albinoni,Caldera,Galuppi,Gasparini,Giacomelli,Porta,Sellitto,Vivaldi
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Arias
PERFORMER: Max Emanuel Cencic (countertenor); Il Pomo d’Oro/Riccardo Minasi


Venetian music and Vivaldi have almost become synonymous, but during the republic’s Golden Age a litany of fine composers wrote for its dozen or so opera houses. This revelatory disc unveils some precious yet unknown arias written for the Venetian stage by Albinoni, Caldara, Galuppi, Gasparini, Giacomelli, Sellitto, Vivaldi and others, among them coloratura showpieces in florid Baroque style, like Vivaldi’s ‘A piedi miei svenato’, with its urgent, driving rhythms, or ‘Anche in mezzo a perigliosa’ – all quick-fire scales and perilous vocal leaps. At the same time, languid love songs such as Albinoni’s lyrical and intimate ‘Pianta bella, pianta amata’, and the soft, pastoral warblings of Giovanni Porta’s ‘Mormorando quelle fronde’ show that not all was fireworks and passion in the Venetian opera house.

Countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic negotiates the vocal acrobatics of this repertoire effortlessly – his voice light and agile, his technique sure. But he is no mere showman, and responds to dramatic situations with singing that is by turns tender and seductive, fiery and furious, shaping and articulating melodic lines with a real sense of their poetry. Violinist Riccardo Minasi directs some vibrant playing from Italian ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro, which really sing in the open, resonant acoustic.


Kate Bolton