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Sound Samples & Downloads

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Farnace - Dramma per musica RV711G (1738 version) [191:35]
Max Emanuel Cencic (counter-tenor) – Farnace; Ann Hallenberg (mezzo) – Selinda; Karina Gauvin (soprano) – Gilade; Daniel Behle (tenor) – Pompeo; Ruxandra Donose (mezzo) – Tamiri; Mary-Ellen Nesi (mezzo) – Berenice; Emiliano Gonzales Toro (tenor) – Aquilio; Michael Maniaci (male soprano)
Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano
I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis
rec. Lugano, 2010
VIRGIN CLASSICS 0709142 [3 CDs: 65:00 + 70:35 + 56:00]

Experience Classicsonline

A sharp-eyed reader may notice the 'G' after the RV or Ryom-Verzeichnis number. Peter Ryom's catalogue numbers, so valuable to the collector of Vivaldi's concertos to ensure that a CD contains new pieces you have not already purchased - OK, perhaps only I use it that way! - are given suffix letters only when various versions exist of a composition. Since Farnace is just such a piece a large part of the fascinating booklet is devoted to explaining in exhaustive detail why this is 711G rather than any of A to H. Far from being dull, this account is full of intriguing social and musical history and describes the sometimes unpleasant reality of a baroque composer's life. Remember that before Beethoven composers were servants of the rich and treated as such. As it happens there is little chance that you will be mixing this version up with all the others you own because the Alia Vox recording is clearly labelled '1727 version' and Jordi Savall's version equally clearly 'RV771D'. There are substantial differences between this final version intended for performance in Ferrara, and those earlier ones, so from a listener's point-of-view the present set is worth buying as well because firstly a lot of the music was recomposed or written entirely afresh by the composer, and secondly the final act, never completed by him, has been reconstructed by the conductor Diego Fasolis and musicologist Frédéric Delaméa. This too is detailed in the booklet.

None of this tells one how it sounds. It sounds mostly superb. The ladies of the cast are uniformly brilliant and the men sing well for the majority of the time. I was occasionally disturbed by lapses of pitch but they were hardly gross distortions. The orchestral part is played with eye-watering gusto and makes for enormous listening fun. The opera itself is the usual baroque hotch-potch of unlikely alliances and loves won and lost. It seems fair to treat all that as unimportant and far from any current reality or operatic fashion. One shudders to think of what some opera director might do to make the story 'relevant' with the usual clichés of AK47s and greatcoats, here one can simply enjoy Vivaldi's startlingly imaginative outpourings of lament and joyful song. Some of the singing should clearly be impossible, so unrelenting are the demands of the composer, but this cast, the ladies especially, give it their all. Under the enthusiastic direction of Diego Fasolis this must be as good as a Vivaldi performance gets.

The recording is, for a standard CD, flawless.

Dave Billinge






























































































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