Vivaldi: Arias from Orlando furioso, Tito Manlio, L’olimpiade, La fede tradita e vendicata, Semiramide, Il Tigrane etc

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Archiv
ALBUM TITLE: Amor profano
WORKS: Arias from Orlando furioso, Tito Manlio, L’olimpiade, La fede tradita e vendicata, Semiramide, Il Tigrane etc
PERFORMER: Simone Kermes (soprano); Venice Baroque Orchestra/Andrea Marcon
CATALOGUE NO: 477 6618

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Amor Profano is the sequel to Amor Sacro in which Simone Kermes and the Venice Baroque Orchestra performed four of Vivaldi’s motets for solo soprano. Here Kermes, with the same orchestra, once again under the direction of Andrea Marcon, sings arias from Vivaldi’s operas. There are 13 arias in all, of which five have been granted, justifiably for once, ‘world premiere’ status. A sinfonia from the pasticcio Bajazet (aka Tamerlano) provides a pleasing instrumental interlude halfway through the programme.

Kermes is on top form, singing with vocal clarity, tonal precision and inflective subtlety. Perhaps inevitably, I find myself longing for contextual relevance now and again. It’s not that these arias don’t stand well on their own but rather that the modulations and key shifts created by the juxtaposition of recitative and aria can heighten our emotional responses. Vivaldi opera enthusiasts will encounter some old or, more likely, recently acquired friends among the assembled company here, among them the virtuosic ‘Agitata da due venti’ (Griselda). Of the arias making their recording debut, ‘Sin nel placido soggiorno’ from a lost opera, La fede tradita e vendicata discovers the composer weaving a spell of enchantment in his most seductive idiom. The excellent recorder player, to whom the obbligato belongs but who receives no mention at all, will be less than amused. Elsewhere, a fine contribution by trumpeter Gabriele Cassone is properly credited. Nicholas Anderson

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Reviewed April 2008