Still rather superb. No. Forget the implied qualification; just still superb. Recorded
in 2003 and first issued the following year this disc shows that
Ciofi and Di Donato are something of a dream pairing. And with
Alan Curtis at the harpsichord and directing Il Complesso Barocco,
and with a sequence of ravishing – often lesser known - duets
then you have a disc of Alpha status. Its reappearance here is
greatly to be welcomed.
What makes things so masterful
is the combination of lithe and alert instrumental contributions,
a vital harpsichord sound space, expressive or avid B sections,
expertly realised tempo decisions, finely judged da capo ornaments
and most of all the pairing of Ciofi’s superfine soprano with
the castrato-intended roles taken by Di Donato’s fuller mezzo.
The voices are powerfully complementary.
One should add a concentrated
sense of characterisation to the brew. Note the urgency of the
recitative in the sole example from Silla. And to amplify the
matter of control of B sections, listen out for the elastic
eloquence in Scherzano sul tuo volto from Rinaldo, an
especially captivating example but just one among many. Similarly
my reference to instrumental contributions could have been tailor
made to describe the violin solo in Sosarme’s
Per le porte del tormento where the two singers’ phrasing is not simply
warm and lyric but perfectly controlled. The sense of the natural
arc of a phrase is something that comes over time and again
in this recital; I can’t think of a single case where a phrase
sounded ungainly or where a phrase ending tapered disappointingly.
Natural buoyancy of rhythm helps but the overriding impression
is of true musicality at work.
The voices fall over each other
with precision and great naturalness in Atalanta’s Amarilli?
Oh Dei! Che vuoi? where the sense of dramatic
tension, once unleashed, remains constant to the very end. There
are five extracts from Poro of which the highlight is Se mai
turbo il tuo riposo with its
opportunities for both reflective intiamcy and dcemonstrative
to showcase these particular examples is to render less than
adequate praise to the recital as a whole.
by Göran Forsling