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The Voice
Philippe Jaroussky (counter-tenor)
Concerto Köln/Emanuelle Haďm
Ensemble Matheus/Jean-Christophe Spinosi
Le Concert d’Astrée/Emanuelle Haďm
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
No texts or translations
VIRGIN CLASSICS 6026602 [76:08 + 73:58]

A previous review by Brian Wilson expertly laid out the options for the prospective purchaser of this highlights twofer dedicated to the art of French counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky. I’ve not encountered the blu-ray release to which he draws attention, so I can be of little further help there – not that you’d need it, as BW’s review pinpoints matters very helpfully.

I would reiterate the point that six of the tracks are new recordings, which means that the remaining 26 are from Jaroussky’s back catalogue, whether complete operas or more thematically-based releases. Jaroussky has always been admired for his focused and musical expression. He is not a high sopranist, nor does he chisel out a baritonal chest voice, as some of his confreres are all too often given to doing. There is something pure and refined about his singing, and on stage he is a truly malleable actor, believable in nearly all he does. With the proviso that you need to read BW’s review to get to the bones of the origin of many of these recordings – it would be tedious to repeat here – I’ll merely skim the surface in this review.

There are no texts, thus no translations. There’s an attractive multi-lingual booklet with a number of photographs and details – with cover pictures – of his many CDs and DVDs. Should you be unfamiliar with these discs the discography will prove helpful, as the booklet track listing isn’t cluttered up with label details or catalogue numbers – it simply includes the orchestra and conductor (if any) or the accompanying pianist in the few songs.

The new releases include the very first track Porpora’s Alto Giove, which is fast becoming a repertoire piece, in a performance with a long-time colleague Emmanuelle Haďm, directing Concerto Köln. Interestingly, this performance comes with some discreet ornaments – I’ve listened to some shockers over the years – but no B section! I’ve heard about stripped-back performances but this is really cut to the bone. I think Jaroussky is one of the very best Vivaldi singers before the public today and fortunately there are a number of examples of his singing of this repertoire – vibrant, purposeful but always musical, with focused divisions and no extraneous gestures. It was appropriate to include old favourites such as Handel’s Scherza, infida, and Monteverdi’s Pur ti miro with soprano Nuria Rial. Note however that Ombra mai fu – a touch too strung-out for my own tastes - is a newbie, with Diego Fasolis and his excellent band I Barocchisti. The compilers, though, didn’t neglect Caldara or indeed JC Bach, whose music is graced by Jaroussky’s singing. They also didn’t overlook chanson. Many counter-tenors now routinely perform nineteenth and twentieth-century French chansons, but it wasn’t always so. Here Jaroussky sings Hahn, Chaminade and Lekeu. His Piazzolla is more unusual still. The first disc ends with another new recording, Luigi Rossi’s Lasciate Averno from L’Orfeo, with Christina Pluhar directing L’Arpeggiata. Stately rubati inform sections of another newcomer to his discography, Venti, turbine from Rinaldo once again accompanied by Fasolis. Those who recall his partnership on disc with Max Emanuel Cencic will relish their beautiful singing of Bononcini’s Chi d’amor tra le catene. One can gauge his superb breath control and gift for long phrasing in Vivaldi’s Mentre dormi from L’Olimpiade. Try also to hear JC Bach’s witty La legge accetto from Orfeo ed Euridice and admire the counter-tenor’s light and feathery runs.

This is a useful introduction to Jaroussky-on-disc, though by definition it can really only scratch the surface of a career still in its relative youth.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Brian Wilson

Full Track-listing
CD 1
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 gratć 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]

CD 2
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.