Vivaldi, etc

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COMPOSERS: etc,Vivaldi
LABELS: DG Archiv
WORKS: Andromeda liberata
PERFORMER: Simone Kermes, Katerina Beranova, Anna Bonitatibus, Max Emanuel Cencic, Mark Tucker; La Stagione Armonica, Venice Baroque Orchestra/Andrew Marcon
CATALOGUE NO: 477 0982

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Andromeda liberata is a serenata recently discovered in the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice. Its music has prompted lively debate, some believing it to be a hitherto unknown piece by Vivaldi, others exercising greater caution. Having now listened to it several times I am prepared to put my shirt on its not being entirely Vivaldi’s work but almost certainly a pasticcio, a popular means at the time by which existing music could be recycled and placed in new contexts. Vivaldi’s authorship of at least one of the work’s many arias – the Morphean ‘Sovvente il sole’, with its wistful violin solo – has been confirmed by French musicologist Olivier Fourés, who discovered the serenata. The text, by an unidentified hand, derives from the well-known Greek myth of Andromeda, her exposure to a sea-monster, her rescue by Perseus and their eventual marriage. There are five dramatis personae (all of whom have arias), a small chorus and an orchestra of brass, woodwind, timpani and strings. The casting here is uniformly strong with each of the three female soloists offering contrasting performances of considerable appeal. Czech soprano Katerina Beranova is teasingly alluring as the vain and boastful Cassiopeia, while soprano Simone Kermes brings sensibility and a wider range of colour to the title role. Countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic makes an appropriately heroic Perseus and it is he who is the favoured recipient of the beguiling aria ‘Sovvente il sole’. The Venice Baroque Orchestra under Andrea Marcon’s intuitively stylish direction is on excellent form and, with lively choral responses from La Stagione Armonica, sets the seal on a release that deserves to do very well indeed. Nicholas Anderson

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Reviewed January 2005