A Scarlatti: Sedecia, re di Gerusalemme

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COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Sedecia, re di Gerusalemme
PERFORMER: Virginie Pochon (soprano) Philippe Jaroussky (treble), Peter Harvey (bass), Mark Padmore (tenor); Il Seminario Musicale/Gérard Lesne (countertenor)
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45452 2
Scarlatti’s oratorio Sedecia, re di Gerusalemme (Zedekiah, King of Jerusalem) is a robust drama whose central theme is the punishment by Nebuchadnezzar of the Judaean king. Scarlatti wrote it for performance in Rome or Urbino in 1705 and it was heard subsequently in Vienna and Florence. These were fruitful years for oratorio and Scarlatti’s Roman patron Cardinal Ottoboni spared no expense in putting on lavish productions with enormous instrumental forces. The edition for this premiere recording has been made by Karl Böhmer, who has provided an informative introductory essay, and Oliver Mattern.

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Gérard Lesne has made something of a speciality of Scarlatti’s music and his lively direction of Sedecia benefits from his fluent handling of dramatic and stylistic aspects of the work. Lesne sings the title role with insight into Zedekiah’s wilful personality and its tragic consequences. While Scarlatti endowed the role with some finely sustained and poignantly expressive music, he evidently took great care over the other vocal parts, too. Zedekiah’s wife Anna and their son Ismael both have fervently expressive music and notably, perhaps, in their duet ‘Caro figlio’ (Part 1). What a fine contrast between lyrical writing such as this, and Anna’s noble, commanding and courageous aria ‘Fermati, o barbaro’ which concludes the first part of this fine oratorio. A splendid achievement. Nicholas Anderson