This is the style of programme which you might enjoy if you
wandered into an Italian church on a summer holiday, an attractive
selection of baroque music for soprano, trumpet and organ. Whether
this sort of programme translates into a good CD is a debatable
point and much depends on the performances. Here the music is
played by a trio consisting of two young Italian instrumentalists
(Alberto Bardelloni and Ivan Ronda) and a Japanese soprano,
Emi Aikawa. Aikawa moved to Italy in 2001 and studied with Robert
Their disc contains a mixture of types of music, most of it
written for soprano, trumpet and strings, a transcription for
organ of a string concerto and some written for soprano, trumpet
and continuo, probably originally played on harpsichord but
here played quite legitimately on the organ.
They open with Galuppi’s aria All tromba della fama,
written for soprano, trumpet and strings. This exists in a manuscript
on its own, but most probably comes from an opera. The aria
refers to the fact that the goddess Fame was typically depicted
with a trumpet. This is followed by four striking arias from
a set by Scarlatti written for soprano, trumpet and continuo.
There are seven arias in the full set and it is a shame that
the group did not record all of them.
Ivan Ronda then plays Bach’s transcription for organ of Vivaldi’s
concerto for 4 violins and continuo. In a concert this probably
makes a nice break but on a CD I missed the soprano and trumpet
and frankly I did not find Ronda’s account of the work entirely
convincing: there were too many passages when I missed the string
textures, something that an organist has to guard against in
these type of pieces.
A pair of Purcell extracts next, Sound the Trumpet from
the Welcome Ode for James II, and Hark, the echoing air from
The Fairy Queen. Both pieces are quite short and would
have been improved by being set in context, even if they did
not quite fit in with the programme thematically. Also, I am
not sure that I really want to listen to Purcell transcribed
for organ, but if it has to be done then Ronda’s playing is
discrete and convincing, perhaps too discrete at times.
Another extract, this time of the Et exultavit from Bach’s
Magnificat, my feelings about this echo those on the Purcell.
Next a genuinely fascinating piece, Viviani’s Sonata prima,
not a transcription but the earliest surviving piece for trumpet
with organ accompaniment. This is definitely the sort of thing
that should have been on the disc.
Finally a pair of Handel excerpts, the lovely opening from the
Birthday Ode to Queen Anne and the inevitable Let the Bright
I have nothing but admiration for the brilliant trumpet playing
of Alberto Bardelloni. He is on all but one of the tracks on
the disc and his playing of the high baroque trumpets parts
is entirely a source of joy. Despite the dominating nature of
the instrument he successfully creates a real partnership with
the other two performers and you never feel that he his pushing
About Aikawa I am more conflicted. At first sight she has an
attractive lyric voice, with a high bright focus. Her upper
voice is generally attractive and brilliant though it does sometimes
sound metallic when she pushes. But her running passages sung
in middle voice are disturbingly uneven in quality, sometimes
nicely articulated and sometimes smudged. Finally there is her
tendency to articulate, to a certain extent, each note. She
can sing pure legato, but in movements like the Purcell and
the Handel Eternal Source, this tendency to articulate
ruins the feel of the line. Perhaps working with two instrumentalists
she felt the need to emulate them, but she should worry more
about her sense of line. Finally, in the Purcell and Handel,
her English is rather poor; if the musicality had been better,
this would have gone relatively unnoticed.
Ronda is a fine organist, playing a 2001 instrument built by
Franz Zanin of Camino al Taliamento (Udine). It is a mechanical
action instrument with a suspended action. There were a number
of occasions when I thought that his playing was a little too
discreet, and that he could have displayed rather more personality
to match those of soprano and trumpet.
The CD is slightly short at 50 minutes. The booklet includes
notes about the music in English, but no texts which is a serious
loss in the less well known pieces.
This is a pleasant and quite promising recital which does not
achieve its potential. It is a shame that the programme did
not concentrate on the more unusual items like the Scarlatti
and the Viviani. If you are giving us short excerpts, in transcription,
from well known pieces by Purcell, Handel and Bach then you
have to have a very good reason for doing it. Here, Trio Barocco
do not quite convince.
see also review by