Rosso : Italian Baroque Arias
Antonio SARTORIO (1630-1680)
Giulio Cesare in Egitto (1676):Quando voglio [2:41]
Alessandro STRADELLA (1642-1682)
San Giovanni Battista (1675):Queste lagrime e sospiri [4:42]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Alcina, HWV34(1735), Act 1: Tornami a vagheggiar [4:58]
Rinaldo, HWV7 (1711), Act 2: Lascia ch’io pianga [5:38]
Ariodante, HWV 33, (1735), Act 1: Volate, amori [3:49]
Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV17(1724), Act 3: Piangerò la sorte mia [6:59]
Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725)
La Griselda (1721), Act 3, Scene 3: Se il mio dolor t’offende [2:40]
George Frideric HANDEL
Alcina, Act 2, Ah, mio cor [12:24]
Ariodante, Act 1: Neghittosi, or voi che fate [3:19]
Nicola PORPORA (1686-1768)
Lucio Papirio (1737), Act 1: Morte amara [4:30]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
L’Olimpiade, RWV725 (1734), Act 2, Scene 5: Siam navi all’onde algenti [7:18]
L’Orfeo (1672):Orfeo, tu dormi [5:17]
Benedetto MARCELLO (1686-1739)
Arianna (1727):Come mai puoi vedermi piangere [5:14]
Alessandro SCARLATTI
Il Sedecia, Rè di Gerusalemme (1705):Caldo sangue [5:55]
Patricia Petibon (soprano); Venice Baroque Orchestra/Andrea Marcon
rec. Toblach/Dobblaco, Kulturzentrum Grand Hotel, Gustav-Mahler-Saal, September 2009. DDD.
Texts and translations included
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 8763 [75:24]
This could have been a very short review, indeed, could even have taken less time to type than the contents listing: everything here - repertoire, singing, orchestral support, direction, presentation, generous playing time and recording quality - is a thorough delight. By no means all the music is well known, but even the less familiar items were well worth the exploration. Some are, indeed, real discoveries - the opening aria, from Sartorio’s Giulio Cesare and track 7, from Scarlatti’s Griselda to name but two - and even those few which are less than first-rate serve to highlight the quality of the better-known, especially the Handel and Vivaldi.
This was a double journey of discovery for me: not only did much of the music represent a very worthwhile exploration, but I had never heard Patricia Petibon before, though I was well enough aware of her reputation in the baroque repertoire and of the fact that Michael Cookson had made her debut album of Haydn, Mozart and Gluck Recording of the Month (477 7468 - see review.) I can’t resist following his example and giving the same accolade to the new album.
I had never heard Sartorio’s Giulio Cesare and there don’t seem to be any available recordings, but there is a version of his L’Orfeo on the Challenge label (CC72020) and I shall be looking to add this to my collection. The Warner version to which Robert J Farr gave a lukewarm welcome - here - seems to have been deleted, but his point about the musicological significance of the work remains valid. In fact, as sung here by Petibon, the aria Orfeo, tu dormi (track 12) is of much more than musicological interest, but that is one of the delights of this album - Petibon and Marcon have a Beecham-like knack of making everything sound first-rate.
Porpora’s Morte amara (track 10), from another opera that I have never heard, Lucio Papirio, also receives a performance that makes one wonder why it has not been recorded. When it comes to the genuinely first-rate, as in the case of Handel’s Piangerò la mia sorte (track 6) and Ah! mio cor (track 8) and Vivaldi’s Siam navi all’onde (track 11), track 6 preceding and tracks 8 and 11 following immediately after one of the unknown tracks that I have singled out, the result is even more striking.
Some of the works represented here have been rediscovered in fine recordings in recent years. Such is the case with Stradella’s San Giovanni Battista, of which there are fine recordings from Minkowski on mid-price Erato - see review - and (even better) on Hyperion (Allessandro de Marchi, CDA67617 - see review). There is also an excellent recording of Vivaldi’s L’Olimpiade (Naïve Op30316, highlights on OP30451 - see review: another Recording of the Month.) Cecilia Bartoli (Decca 466 5692) and Simone Kermes (DGG 477 4618, like the new CD with the Venice Baroque Orchestra and Marcon) also include the aria Siam navi on highly recommended all-Vivaldi albums. Others, such as Stradella’s Griselda and Porpora’s Lucio Papirio, certainly seem to be ripe for recording on the basis of what we hear here.
Not only does the programme alternate between the better- and less-well-known, the range of moods which it contains is also extremely varied. Not only do I want to hear more of the works that were discoveries, I also look forward to hearing more from Petibon. She doesn’t efface earlier loves in this repertoire, notably Emma Kirkby - how could she? - but I did want to play the whole CD over again after the first hearing. In fact, there is not one single item here which duplicates anything on the superb Hyperion 3-CD set of Handel Opera Arias which I strongly recommended some time ago (Emma Kirkby, with Catherine Bott on CD2, a mid-price offering on CDS44271/3 - see review and review.) I can think of no finer recommendation for the quality of the new DGG CD than that it made me think of that Hyperion set and recommend the two in the same sentence. Kirk McElhearn asks, with reference to the Hyperion, what more could you ask? Now I must ask the same rhetorical question with regard to the new CD.
If I have to find one thing to criticise, it must be the title and the spatter of ‘blood’ on the back of the booklet and on the insert. I suppose the title is meant to signify the red-blooded nature of most of this music, especially the final aria, Caldo sangue (tr.14), and of the performances. The graphics are there, presumably, in case we didn’t get the message. I don’t suppose that it will stop this CD following its predecessor, Amoureuses, in winning lots of awards - nor should it - but it’s less subtle and less descriptive of the contents than the earlier album. The notes in the booklet are good enough to make me wish that Philippe Beausant had been invited to write at greater length - but then we’d have had the Hyperion problem that the booklet would have been too good and too thick to insert in the case.
The revamped DGG Webshop will give you the opportunity to sample the new CD. A warning is necessary, however: listen to any track, not just those which I have singled out, and you will want not only to place an immediate order for the album and its predecessor, but also to explore more fully many of the works represented here. Don’t overlook Petibon’s earlier Virgin Classics CD of Rameau, Lully and Charpentier (5454812) or her contribution to the Handel Anniversary Edition Arias and Duets 2-CD set (6960352 - see review).
Brian Wilson 
Well-known and unknown arias, all made to sound superb ... see Full Review