This is a fine selection of cantatas – some better known, some
much less so – generously presented. There are two by Handel,
two by Pepusch and single examples by Lotti, Scarlatti, Telemann
and Croft. Given the cosmopolitan geographical leanings of these
composers it can be seen that the focus ranges freely from Italy
to Germany and to England and stylistically the influences are
many and fruitful.
Poetica is based around the husband and wife team of mezzo
Sabine and baroque oboist Tuomas Kaipainen. The group is completed
by Sohyun Sung (cello) and Petteri Pitko (harpsichord). Tuomas
Kaipainen is an effective performer which is just as well
because he has a torrent of virtuosic material with which
to deal. I hadn’t heard any recordings by Sabine Kaipainen
so can’t judge if this is representative of her best singing.
Let me just say that I think she had an off day, or series
of off days, when setting down these performances.
Her voice reveals
unsteadiness and unevenness of production as early as the
Largo of Handel’s Mi palpita il cor. She snatches at
notes in the lower register and her pitch is imperfect. Additionally
the recording, in the Kirche Blumenstein, has failed to “centre”
the voice satisfactorily, whereas the oboe projects well enough.
For all the plangency of the lyric slow movement it’s sabotaged
by an uncontrolled vibrato. Similarly there are registral
cracks in the Lento aria of Ardo è ver per te d’amore
and in the following recitative the harpsichord’s dramatic
interjections sound out of scale.
expressive feature – a rock ‘n’ roll cembalo – returns in
Handel’s Nel dolce dell’oblio. The Pepusch suits her
voice much better though her English pronunciation is very
odd – as is, doubtless, many English singers’ pronunciation
of foreign languages. She just about manages the demanding
breath control of the recitative and arias of Croft’s Celladon
and deals well with the malicious laughter in the Telemann.
Throughout her husband plays with attractive tone and technical
and German translations fill up the nicely printed booklet
but this doesn’t compensate for the oddities in recording
and for performance problems which are really too substantial
to pass over.