A Scarlatti’s La Gloria di Primavera Performed by the Philharmonia Chorale

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COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti
LABELS: Philharmonia Baroque
ALBUM TITLE: A Scarlatti
WORKS: La Gloria di Primavera
PERFORMER: Suzana Ograjenek (soprano), Diana Moore (mezzo), Clint van der Linde (countertenor), Nicholas Phan (tenor), Douglas Williams (bass-baritone); Philharmonia Chorale; Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra/Nicholas McGegan
CATALOGUE NO: PBP-09

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To celebrate his 30 years with Philharmonia Baroque, Nicholas McGegan presents a score last performed three centuries ago – fittingly enough, as a birthday celebration. Alessandro Scarlatti’s allegorical serenata La gloria di primavera marked the birth of a long-awaited heir to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, but as the infant died just two months later, the work has remained silent ever since. Its libretto personifies the four Seasons who bicker over their respective importance – Spring inevitably triumphing, since the imperial child was born in April. Scarlatti paints the changing seasons with picturesque imitations of nature and the elements, and arias that range from the pastoral to the bellicose. 

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McGegan and his ensemble are responsive to the varied instrumental shades, and their alert playing highlights Scarlatti’s fleet, dancing rhythms. Of the soloists, soprano Suzana Ograjenek (Summer) is most at ease with the Baroque idiom, her agile, silvery voice well suited to Scarlatti’s flowery writing. Mezzo Diana Moore makes a plummy Spring, the vocal timbre occasionally spoilt by too much vibrato. Clint van der Linde’s countertenor evokes the androgynous sound of an alto castrato, but his voice lacks definition and words are sometimes indistinct. Nicholas Phan’s tenor is aptly glassy for the role of Winter, while bass-baritone Douglas Williams copes well with the wide-ranging part of Jove. Unfortunately, the rather close-recorded perspective on the soloists upsets the balance in the ensemble and choral numbers. Kate Bolton-Porciatti