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Philippe Jaroussky: The Voice
Philippe Jaroussky (counter-tenor)
Concerto Köln/Emanuelle Haïm
Ensemble Matheus/Jean-Christophe Spinosi
Le Concert d’Astrée/Emanuelle Haïm
Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi
Ensemble Artemisia
Ensemble la Fenice/Jean Tubéry
Markus Deuter (oboe); Fréderic Rivoal (fortepiano);
Le Cercle de l’Harmonie/Jéremie Rohrer
L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar
Jérôme Ducros (piano)
Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi
I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis
Les Arts Florissants/William Christie
Ensemble Artaserse
Full track listing at end of review.
rec. various, 2008-2012
VIRGIN CLASSICS 6026602 [76:08 + 73:58]

Experience Classicsonline


This inexpensive 2-CD album hit the shops at the same time as a Virgin Classics DVD and blu-ray collection from Jaroussky’s concerts (6026659 DVD and 0175919 blu-ray - see review) covering such similar ground that many of the items are duplicated, albeit in studio performances here and sometimes with different partners from the live recordings.

For reasons which I’ve explained in more detail in my review of the blu-ray, I recommend the latter in preference to the CDs. Briefly:
- If you have a suitable blu-ray player linked to your audio set-up the sound is preferable to that on the CDs, good as the latter are;
- There’s a great deal to be learned about baroque instruments and the different ways in which various ensembles employ them by seeing what goes on;
- Also there’s a considerable difference between the directing styles of the various ensembles, some with conductor, some without;
- Online dealers are charging very little more for the DVD than for the CDs and little more again for the blu-ray.
 
You should also be aware that only six tracks of the 32 on the CDs are new recordings - I’ve marked them with an asterisk in the list. To be fair to Virgin Classics, they do highlight the six new tracks, though they don’t spell out the fact that the other 26 are reissued. The new set is, however, complementary to Jaroussky’s contributions to another recent Virgin 2-CD set, Une Fête baroque which I recommended a few months ago - review - with no overlaps, though some of the items from that set are repeated on the DVD/blu-ray.
 
It’s particularly annoying that we have duplications of odd items from various collections: from Vivaldi Heroes, for example, there’s Vedrò con mio diletto (CD2, tr.2), Mentre dormi (CD2, tr.6) and Sento in seno (CD2, tr.9), sounding just as well here as on the parent recital but overlapping a quarter of that release (Virgin 3634142: Recording of the Month - review - review - and March 2012/1 Download Roundup). Similarly we have 19 minutes out of 72 from Carestini - the story of a castrato (Virgin 3952422 - review) and 15 minutes out of 68 from Caldara in Vienna (Virgin 6488102 - review).
 
Some items come from complete opera recordings, such as the excerpt from Ercole sul Termodonte, from the 2-CD set of that work to which Simon Thompson gave a well-deserved ovation as Recording of the Month (Virgin 6845450 - review).
 
Not everything on these two CDs comes from the baroque; Andrea Mattioli, composer of the penultimate item on CD2 predates that period, while CD1 is rounded off by music with piano accompaniment by Reynaldo Hahn, Cecile Chaminade and Guillaume Lekeu, an item from a recent CD of South American music Los Pájaros perdidos and a beautiful performance of the Pie Jesu from Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, demonstrating Jaroussky’s versatility, before we return to the baroque with a new recording of an aria from Luigi Rossi’s Orfeo. It’s a bit naughty to rehash parts of Los Pájaros perdidos soon after the release of the album of the same name - I made it Recording of the Month as recently as May 2012: review - but I can’t grumble at the music or the performance.
 
The performances are every bit as good as those on the DVD/blu-ray set, though the latter have the added frisson that comes from a live concert, and there’s just enough here that isn’t on that release to make the CDs recommendable in their own right. For Jaroussky as a very accomplished violinist in Shostakovich on video, for example, we trade his beautiful performance of Fauré; that and the superb performance of Handel’s Ombra mai fu which opens CD2 are almost worth the cost of the two CDs in themselves. Even without the visual clues, you can hear that Jaroussky is acting with his voice, not just singing.
 
I’m also pleased to see several pieces by J C Bach and Bononcini, not represented on the blu-ray but on the CDs; both were, of course associated with London, where the latter was a serious rival to Handel such that contemporaries often claimed not to be able to tell their music apart and nicknamed them Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
 
I took some time to get used to Jaroussky’s light-toned counter-tenor when I first heard it on un Concert pour Mazarin (Virgin 5456462 - see May 2009 Download Roundup) but it’s a taste that I’ve long since acquired and I’ve come to appreciate his contributions to opera recordings more and more. After some initial hesitation I enjoyed the CD set of Handel’s Faramondo in which he appears (Virgin 2166112 - review and review) and he recently ‘sold’ me L’Incoronazione di Poppea which I’d previously dismissed as the least effective of the three surviving operas attributed to Monteverdi. Of course he had some very effective help in Poppea from Danielle de Niese and William Christie (Virgin DVD 0709519: Recording of the Month - review) and he gets some equally fine assistance on the new 2-CD set. The second CD is splendidly rounded off by a performance of Pur ti miro from Poppea in a performance with Nuria Rial and l’Arpeggiata conducted by Christine Pluhar, just as fine as that in the DVD performance.
 
If you think you may be one of the small group who have trouble getting acclimatised to Jaroussky’s voice - more soprano-like than alto - try listening to these CDs via the invaluable Naxos Music Library, where they are already available, or from Spotify.
 
The documentation in the booklet is more thorough than that which accompanies the video, though it’s still mainly about Jaroussky rather than the music and there are neither texts nor even synopses.
 
A large and visible physical blemish on CD2 made my Arcam Solo skip but all my other players obliged without complaint - why is it that the most expensive equipment is often the most temperamental?
 
I’d recommend the DVD or blu-ray companion set La Voix des rêves in preference to these CDs - and the blu-ray rather than the DVD - but I can’t imagine any lover of baroque music feeling short-changed by the splendid singing on the CDs. There’s enough material here that isn’t on the blu-ray for me to be sure that I shall be hanging on to both. Shop around carefully and you’ll find the blu-ray and CDs together for less than £30. For all my reservations about the amount of reissued material on the CDs that still strikes me as excellent value.
 
Brian Wilson 
 
Track listing:
 
CD1
Nicola PORPORA (1686-1768) Polifemo: Alto Giove* [4:36]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Tito Manlio, RV 738, Act II: Vanne, perfida, va - Fra la procelle [5:04]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Ariodante, HWV 33, Act II:Scherza infida [5:55]
Antonio VIVALDI Ercole su’l Termodonte, RV 710, Act I: Per si bella speranza che non sapro tentar? - Sento con qual diletto [4:00]
Antonio CALDARA (1670-1736) Ifigenia in Aulide:Tutto fa nocchiero [7:28]
Nicola PORPORA Siface: Tu che d’ardire m’attendi [3:24]
Antonio VIVALDI Pianti, sospiri e dimandar mercede, RV 676: Cor ingrato, dispietato [3:22]
Giovanni Battista BASSANI (c.1650-1716)/ Luigi ROSSI (c.1597-1653) In caligine umbrosa: Recitativo ed Alleluia: Ardendo suspiro … Jam gratæ memoria [5:23]
Johann Christian BACH (1735-1782) Ebben si vada … Io ti lascio, W. LG2 [5:51]
Anonymous Ninna nanna [4:40]
Reynaldo HAHN (1875-1947) A Chloris [3:02]
Cecile CHAMINADE (1857-1944) Sombrero [1:35]
Guillaume LEKEU (1870-1894) 3 Poemes: No. 1. Sur une tombe [3:54]
Mario TREJO (1926-2012) /Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Los pájaros perdidos (arr. Quinto GATO) [3:45]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Requiem, Op. 48: Pie Jesu [3:37]
Luigi ROSSI Orfeo: Lasciate Averno* [6:18]
CD2
George Frideric HANDEL Serse (Xerxes), HWV 40, Act I: Frondi tenere - Ombra mai fu* [4:12]
Antonio VIVALDI Giustino, RV 717, Act I: Vedro con mio diletto [5:10]
George Frideric HANDEL Rinaldo, HWV 7, Act I: Venti turbine* [3:46]
Giovanni BONONCINI (1670-1747) Chi d’amor tra le catene [3:27]
Antonio CALDARA Il Temistocle: Non tremar vassallo indegno [3:26]
Antonio VIVALDI L’Olimpiade, RV 725, Act I: Mentre dormi, Amor fomenti [4:27]
George Frideric HANDEL Alcina, HWV 34, Act II: Mi lusinga il dolce affetto [3:58]
Antonio CALDARA Adriano in Siria: Tutti nemici e rei [4:50]
Antonio VIVALDI Tieteberga, RV 737, Act II: Sento in seno ch’in pioggia di lagrime [4:06]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Oedipus, King of Thebes, Z. 583: Music for a While* [3:43]
Johann Christian BACH Gluck - Orfeo ed Euridice, W. G29: La legge accetto, o Dei [5:15]
Johann Christian BACH Sentimi, non partir … Al mio bene, W. LG4 [7:07]
Claudio MONTEVERDI Laudate Dominum in sanctis eius* [4:01]
Giovanni Felice SANCES (1600-1679) Stabat Mater: O quam tristis [2:55]
Andrea MATTIOLI (1501-1577) Harmonia sacra dedota dal concerto di salmi, motetti, inni and antifone: Ave Regina coelorum [2:57]
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) L’incoronazione di Poppea, Act III Finale: Pur ti miro [4:11]
* new recordings made in Paris, February 2008, Kempen, Germany, 15 July 2010 and Lugano, Switzerland, August 2012; remaining tracks are reissues. 

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