Vivaldi: Prima Donna

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Music from L’Olimpiade, Il Giustino, Semiramide, Orlando furioso etc
PERFORMER: Orfeo 55/Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto)
CATALOGUE NO: DG 476 4390

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Dennis Potter’s singing detective is but nothing compared with Deutsche Grammophon’s singing conductor, Nathalie Stutzmann. Stutzmann, whose highly distinctive voice has graced some memorable recordings, takes centre stage not only as contralto soloist here but also as conductor of her own orchestra, Orfeo 55, with impressive results.

The album leafs through Vivaldi’s operas, his Latin oratorio Juditha triumphans and the serenata Andromeda liberata, in a sequence that highlights the Red Priest’s gift as a lyricist and colourist. Such a medley runs the risk of sounding like a series of bleeding chunks, but the programme is discerningly judged in its balance and range.

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Once heard, never forgotten, Stutzmann’s dark, coppery contralto has an androgynous quality. Fiery and icy, her expressive nuances are varied but never excessive. She is also a proficient conductor: singer and players breathe as one. Kate Bolton