A Scarlatti: Cantatas, Vol. 4

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COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti
LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Cantatas, Vol. 4
PERFORMER: Dominique Labelle, Christine Brandes (soprano); Arcadian Academy/Nicholas McGegan
CATALOGUE NO: 05472 77524 2
Nicholas McGegan, members of the Arcadian Academy and two accomplished singers make further inroads to Alessandro Scarlatti’s chamber cantatas with a fourth volume. This has been a very enjoyable series so far, and has featured a variety of different vocal ranges. Vol. 4 contains three cantatas for two sopranos and a serenata, whose form is usually more extended than a cantata, allows for anything up to six singers and is often in two parts. Their textual content, like almost all Italian chamber cantatas, is pastoral and peopled with allegorical figures. Tirsis, Clori, Fillida and Cupid seem never far away, sighing, weeping, yearning or cursing one another’s apparent infidelities. These were forms at which Scarlatti excelled and there are, consequently, few musical disappointments. The singers Dominique Labelle and Christine Brandes make effective protagonists. Their respective vocal colours offer pleasing contrasts, while at the same time assist the listener in distinguishing one character from the other. Some of the arias call for advanced technique and, by and large, Labelle and Brandes meet the challenge. Throughout, they are complemented by spirited and sympathetic instrumental playing by violinists Elisabeth Blumenstock and Lisa Weiss and a stylish continuo group which includes the fine cellist Phoebe Carrai, archlutenist, theorbo player and guitarist David Tyler and McGegan himself on the harpsichord. Nicholas Anderson