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Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725)
Cantatas Volume II

Ombre tacite e sole (1716)
Il genio di Mitilde
Perche tacete, regolati concenti? (c. 1694)
O pace del mio cor (first setting)
Il rosignolo (first setting) (1698)
Infirmata, vulnerata (motet) (1702)
Arcadian Academy/Nicholas McGegan
David Daniels (counter-tenor)
Recorded at the Theatre C, State University of New York at Purchase, 30 March, 1 & 2 April 1998. DDD
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 74321 935812 [73:51]


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BMG Classics on their Deutsche Harmonia Mundi label have released a fine CD of six cantatas by the Sicilian Alessandro Scarlatti. It seems that the cantatas have been previously released in 1998 on the Conifer label.

By the eighteenth century, Palermo-born Alessandro Scarlatti was the most widely performed Italian composer of vocal music having written more than sixty operas and well over a hundred cantatas. The cantata, more concentrated than opera, was considered at that time as the higher artistic form. Scarlatti was extremely prolific and many of his works including cantatas still remain unrecorded.

With a Papal ban on public opera, Alessandro Scarlatti found an outlet for his talents in composing oratorios and in writing cantatas for Roman patrons, notably Prince Ruspoli and the Cardinals Ottoboni and Pamphili. In 1706 Scarlatti, together with fellow composers and instrumentalists Pasquini and Corelli, was elected to the Accademia dell’Arcadia founded in Rome in 1690. This prestigious Society was a collection of artists, musicians, and writers dedicated to the reform of Italian culture.

The award-winning American-based chamber ensemble the Arcadian Academy was founded and directed by Nicholas McGegan who plays the organ and harpsichord on this release. The period instrument ensemble Arcadian Academy take their name and inspiration from the original Roman society and comprise members of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra from San Francisco.

These are delectable cantatas and world-famous counter-tenor David Daniels is at his glorious best with impeccable intonation and immaculate enunciation. Daniels is superb in the Cantata Il rosignolo (the Nightingdale) from 1698 which is the plainest work here in terms of scoring and structure. In fact the voice is accompanied only by the basso continuo. The closing aria Col tuo mesto mormorio (Sweet stream, with your sad murmuring) is particularly memorably performed with drama and considerable feeling . Another favourite is the opening cantata Ombre tacite e sole (Silent and solitary shadows) from 1716 which calls for two violins, viola and basso continuo and is the most fully scored work in this collection. The work’s concluding aria Allor d‘intorno a te (Then my faithful soul) with the violins playing flawlessly in unison is exceptionally well performed. Daniels at his finest offers austere and passionate intensity singing his aria about love’s painful betrayal and deceit.

The admirable performers of the Arcadian Academy under the expert direction of Nicholas McGegan play with a sense of freshness and sensitivity. The engineers are to be complimented for the high quality sound on this well presented release.

Intense and concentrated scores that will undoubtedly bring much pleasure. Counter-tenor David Daniels is a true master!

Michael Cookson

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