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COMPOSERS: Pistocchi
LABELS: Symphonia
WORKS: Il martirio di Sant’Adriano
PERFORMER: Patrizia Vaccari (soprano), Alessandro Carmignani (countertenor), Gianluca Ferrarini (tenor), Sergio Foresti (bass); Compagnia de Musici/Francesco Baroni
I knew of Pistocchi only as a mid-Baroque singer famed for his ability to ornament vocal lines ‘without transgressing against Time’. This revealing recording proves him also an inventive, polished composer with a fine sense of drama: recitatives are far more than perfunctory links between arias – Froesti (the Roman Emperor) rages fiercely at Adriano, converted to Christianity; single words are painted delicately in dialogues. But most strikingly, Pistocchi’s skill as a singer is reflected in some profoundly moving arias. Vaccari (Natalia) is outstanding, commending her husband’s saintly virtues against a reduced string accompaniment; praying over a haunting walking bass enchained in endless suspensions. After a rather unexpressive start, I warmed to Carmignani’s falsetto, though he changes gear quite abruptly in his lower register, in places giving the surprising impression of two distinct characters. As Adriano, he has some unforgettable moments – a lament entwined by two solo cellos squeezing out tears of poignant Neapolitan harmonies. By contrast, Ferrarini (Claudio) sings of ‘smiling May’ in the simplest of dancing phrases.


The 14 strings of Compagnia de Musici are a touch hard in unisons. Lute and theorbo continuo add warmth to the recording made, I sense, in an empty, resonant theatre. A facsimile wordbook without translation seems an unnecessary economy. George Pratt