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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


DVD Review
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Arias and Concertos:
From the operas: L'Olimpiade, Tito Manilo, Ottone in Villa, Farnace, Bajazet, La fida ninfa, from the oratorio Juditha Triumphans, and from his Gloria.
Plus Concerto in C Major for Flautino, Strings and Bass Continuo; and Concerto in D Major for Lute, Two Violins and Bass Continuo.
Cecilia Bartoli (soprano)
Il Giardino Armonico - conductor and flautino soloist, Giovanni Antonini
Featured soloists: lute, Luca Pianca; oboe, Maria Grazia D'Alessio
Recorded at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, September 2000 dts digital surround sound. Score Plus feature Scores as Subtitle feature
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 100 228 [106.00]
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Viva Vivaldi - what a refreshing change from the interminable Four Seasons; and made all the more welcome by the ravishing tones of Cecilia Bartoli, looking majestic in her rich blue gown.

She opens this collection with a delightful teasing aria from an unknown opera, certainly "di due rai languir constante" whets the appetite for more discoveries about this work.

From L'Olimpiade Bartoli takes on the role of Aminta for the aria "tra le follie diverse siam navi all 'onde algenti". It's a very spirited and proud performance with extremely animated contrasting tempi. There is anger and determination, yet the complicated contours are exquisitely controlled. By contrast, Lucio's aria from Tito Manlio is tender, sad and tragic; there are obvious Bach and Handel influences, with "smooth as silk" legato. Close rapport is clear from the body language between Bartoli and Maria Grazio d'Alessio, (oboe). It is a vivacious conversation piece.

Bartoli opens "gelosia, tu gia rendi", from Ottone in villa in fiery agitation before she relaxes into tender, mournfulness followed by a fierce finale. There is sparkle in abundance here. The triumphant opening section of the aria "armatae face et anguibus" from Juditha triumphans ans devicta Holofernes is most effectively sung. The fiery coloratura passages show Vagus raging over her adversity, a very convincing performance indeed.

In the aria "Zeffiretti che Sessurrti" Bartoli is accompanied by two violins, soloists Enrico Onofri and Marco Bianchi, and together they introduce this love song. It is a joy to watch Bartoli's exquisitely telling facial expressions; and to hear how expressively the violin's delightful phrasing tell the story. Here is pain and pleasure in equal measure.

Cecilia Bartoli, as Furnace, from the opera of the same name, sings the aria 'Gelido in Ogni Vena', with in extreme agitation. She gives a heartrending account of a sorrowing mother mourning the death of her beloved son, truly a cry from the heart. With anger and desperation and anguish in her voice almost brought tears to my eyes. What a performance, Bartoli seemed to be emotionally drained at the end. I'm not surprised.

From the opera Bajazet we are given another riveting performance. The aria 'Anch'il mar par che Sommerga' is sung in true gutsy fashion, very animated but well controlled. From La Griselda, the aria "Agitata da due Venti" is sung with confidence and as might be expected in an agitated manner. There are coloratura passages of great showmanship.

From "Guistino" comes another sparkling offering which brings the concert to a close with Cecilia Bartoli appearing as fresh as when she began, and looking like a Pre-Rafaelite maiden with her long flowing curly hair. The simple backdrop allows the richness of her performance to shine through.

Bartoli's arias are interspersed with two Vivaldi concerti. The first is for flautino, stings and basso continuo, the other for lute, two violins and basso continuo. Both have vigorous outer movements played with enthusiasm and animation by Il Giardino Armonico contrasted with lyrical Largo central movements played with sensitivity and refinement.

Wholly delightful. Clearly Bartoli seems to enjoy this genre and is richly rewarded by the loud and sustained applause that brought the curtain down. Altogether an entertaining and thrilling experience. For Vivaldi enthusiasts, the DVD's Score Plus feature that allows you to read the score as Bartoli performs offers added value.

Grace Barber



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