Vivaldi Arias from Agrippo, Orlando furioso, Il Giustino, La Silvia, etc
Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano); Ensemble Matheus/Jean-Christophe Spinosi
Decca 483 4475 58:.27 mins
It is 20 years since Cecilia Bartoli’s groundbreaking album of 13 stunning opera arias by Vivaldi appeared, inspiring explorations of the repertoire by Sandrine Piau, Vivica Gemaux, Roberta Invernizzi and others. This new recording is somewhat shorter (ten arias and just 58 minutes long) but it is equally revelatory and varied.
All the Bartoli hallmarks are here: the ear-popping virtuosity (‘Combatta un gentil cor’), the tenderness of voice (‘Se mai senti spirati sul volto’), the ability not only to describe a situation but to respond to it (‘Vedrò cor mio diletto’), and the complex skill of painting a character in vocal terms (the dignity captured in ‘Leggi almeno, tiranna infedele’). Characteristically some features fall on the minus side – for example, the occasional tendency for the words to disappear into high-pitched squeaks or odd vowel sounds (‘Quell’augellin che canta’), yet her interpretations are distinctive, deep and utterly compelling. In ‘Sovente il sole’ for example – ‘the sun often shines in the heavens’– we are drawn inexorably into an atmospheric scene of ominously calm nature and, in ‘Sol da te, mio dolce amore’, Bartoli combines with the flautist Jean-Marc Goujon to produce a halo of fluttering and dancing melodic decorations.