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Cantate Contarini ANON
Lamento di Cintia [09:33] Voi me la pagherete [05:00]
Steso all'ombra [07:47] Bella boca [05:50] Si,
si, son tradito [04:44] Sconsolata gemea [09:52] O
voi dell'alma opressa [05:28] Non tante stelle [08:37]
Fili parlianci chiaro [04:54]
Marta Infante (mezzosoprano); Ars Atlántica/Manuel Vilas
(Santi Mirón (viola da gamba), Manuel Vilas (arpa doppia),
Bruno Forst (harpsichord))
rec. at the Iglesia de San Vivente, Pombeiro (Lugo), Spain 14 -
16 July 2008. DDD. ENCHIRIADIS EN 2027 [61:45]
Discs with music from the baroque era which comprise only anonymous
compositions are rare. That is the case here, though. All cantatas
on this disc are from a collection which was compiled by Marco
Contarini (1632-1689). He was a member of a many-branched noble
family from the Veneto, whose wealth allowed him to develop
into an important patron of the arts.
Like many noblemen he owned an estate outside the city. On this
estate he had two theatres built, one of which was famous throughout
Europe and had a seating capacity of about 1,000. The second
was smaller; it was known as the Luoco delle Vergini (the place
of the maidens), because young ladies performed here at the
owner's expense. That made it a kind of conservatoire, like
the Ospedali in Venice. For the performances they made use of
the instruments and the music Marco Contarini had collected.
The cantatas on this disc come from this collection which was
bequeathed in 1839 to the main public library in Venice, the
Biblioteca Marciana, where it is still preserved. The eight
cantatas on the programme are all scored for a low voice and
basso continuo. They probably date from around the middle of
the 17th century, and stylistically they are reminiscent of
the cantatas Barbara Strozzi composed in the latter part of
her career. They contain recitatives and arias, but their form
is less strict than the chamber cantata which was modelled by
Alessandro Scarlatti in the last quarter of the 17th century.
There are very few dacapo arias, but sometimes an aria is repeated
after a recitative. Recitatives and arias are not always strictly
split, and some recitatives turn into a kind of arioso. It is
impossible to say anything about the relationship between text
and music. The booklet has the original lyrics, but only a Spanish
translation. The cantatas show much variety. Si, si, son
tradito is highly dramatic, and has the character of a pocket-sized
opera. O voi dell'alma oppressa, on the other hand, is
much more lyrical, and contains some really beautiful arias.
As much as I am annoyed at the absence of English translations
of the lyrics, I have really enjoyed this disc. First of all,
the cantatas are great stuff and are certainly not inferior
to comparable repertoire from composers whom we do know by name.
Secondly, the performances are excellent. Marta Infante is called
a mezzosoprano, but she has a remarkably strong low register.
Her wide tessitura allows her to explore all specifics of the
various cantatas. She has a great flair for the dramatic character
of some pieces, as she especially shows in the performance of
Si, si, son tradito. But she also sings the more lyrical
pieces very beautifully.
The support of Ars Alántica is outstanding, and in particular
its strong rhythmic drive is admirable. The various combinations
of viola da gamba, harp and harpsichord lend additional variety
to the cantatas. In particular the use of a harp is appropriate,
as it was frequently used in Italy in the 17th century. Its
powerful sound, especially in its lower range, is very suitable
for the more dramatic pieces.
So, this disc is a most enjoyable addition to the growing catalogue
of recordings with 17th-century Italian vocal music.
Johan van Veen
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