A Scarlatti: Cantatas

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COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Cantatas
PERFORMER: Maria Cristina Kiehr (soprano); Concerto Soave/Jean-Marc Aymes
A dozen discs have now appeared over the last few years bearing the name of the soprano Maria Cristina Kiehr, and this third solo recording is likely to be as eagerly sought after as its predecessors. It features three chamber cantatas, all belonging to the accademia tradition: that is to say, they were performed in aristocratic boudoirs by a handful of musicians and treated conventional stories of bucolic passions. Only in the last paragraph of Reinhard Strohm’s informative note do we learn that Bella Madre and Poi che riseppe Orfeo may conceivably not have been by Alessandro Scarlatti at all (New Grove goes so far as to label the authenticity of the former ‘doubtful’). The richest, most imaginative setting of the three is in any case Correa nel seno amato, about which there is no doubt. Here Kiehr projects the affecting tale of Daliso and Eurilla with all the expressive sensitivity we have come to expect. But the unearthly beauty of that extraordinary voice makes its mark right from the start of Bella Madre, with an exquisitely dolorous melisma on ‘il pianto’. The opening Sinfonia, too, with its ravishingly squeezed suspended dissonances, betokens supremely stylish and sympathetic playing from Concerto Soave, directed by Jean-Marc Aymes. Barry Millington