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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Francesco Bartolomeo CONTI (1682-1732)
Cantate con istromenti

Lontananza dell’amato
Ride il prato
Con piu lucidi candori
Vaghi augelletti

Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano
Ars Antique Austria/Gunar Letzbor
Rec: July 2001, Tre Colli church, Calci.
ARCANA A 309 [68.20]
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Francesco Bartolomeo Conti is virtually forgotten today, but was an important composer in Viennese musical life of the 18th century. Born in Florence, he worked as a theorbo player for the Habsburg court, and later become Court Composer. After securing what was an excellent position, he spent the rest of his career in Vienna. He wrote some twenty-six operas, a dozen oratorios, as many comic intermezzos, and about eighty cantatas. This recording contains a selection of his cantatas for solo voice with a small instrumental accompaniment.

Bernarda Fink is an excellent singer who has performed a wide range of baroque music, from Bach to Handel, from Monteverdi to Mozart. Combining Fink’s voice with the Ars Antique Austria ensemble, playing on a group of delectable original instruments, one could expect a truly memorable recording.

Alas, while the music is interesting, and the performers competent, there is nothing that makes this recording stand out. Fink, who has a fine, sensual voice, sounds forced and uncomfortable. She overuses vibrato. Her diction sounds a bit unnatural (while I do not speak Italian, it just sounds like she is stumbling at times), and she is almost screaming at some points, where it seems that the music might call for a more subtle approach. Her voice is too present, overwhelming the instruments, and the recording itself is strange; the music sounds muted, and Fink is off-centre in the sound-space.

Fink does not vary her approach to this music, but sings every part exactly the same. There is little emotion coming through; it sounds as if she is practising. Though her winning voice does save this disc from what could be much worse.

It is a shame, to have such a fine singer and excellent musicians, record something that ends up sounding so uninspired. While some listeners may appreciate this disc for its presentation of an unknown composer,.

Kirk McElhearn



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F.B. CONTI
Lontananza dell'amato

Aria. Lontananza dell'amato
Rec: Piangi amante usignolo
Allegro. Vola presto e lascia il canto
Rec: Vola, e quando ritrovi
Allegro. Provo hor si nel lieto

Ride Il Prato

Allegro. Ride il Prato e fra herbe
Rec: Si nobile vaghezza
E felice il cor che brama
Rec: La sublime decoro d'onor
Sorge amorosa
Rec: Dunque ben degna
L'aura dolce e il venticello

Con piu lucidi candori

Aria. Con piu lucidi candori
Rec: Hoggi rinnuova il circolo solare
Adagio. I bei fregi
Rec: Quindi tutti divoti Pastori e Ninfe
Aria. Allegro assai. In placida calma

Vaghi Augelletti

Vaghi Augelletti
Dolce amor
Rec: In Si vaga Staggione
Adagio. Per dolce ardore
Rec: Or che dunque fiorisce
Quel puro colore



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