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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Vivaldi Alla Moda -
Cantatas for soprano solo and basso continuo
Sorge vermiglia in ciel RV667 [15:48]
Fonti del pianto RV656 [13:15]
Aure, voi pił non siete RV652 [11:31]
Il povero mio cor RV658 [11:04]
Sonata per Violoncello e Basso continuo RV46 [10:53]
Camilla de Falleiro (soprano)
Accademia Apollinea – Petra Schneider (archlute), Sophie Lamberbourg (cello), Thomas Leininger (harpsichord)
rec. Christkatholische Kirche, Magden, Switzerland, June 2015

Benedetto Marcello's satirical pamphlet of 1720 Il Teatro alla Moda deserves a review of its own. Fortunately for CD reviewers there is an excellent article on Wikipedia that does a thorough job. This pamphlet was a merciless critical satire on the state of opera; all aspects of the trade. The full title is "THE FASHIONABLE THEATER – OR – safe and easy METHOD for correctly composing and performing Italian OPERAS in the modern style, – In which – useful and necessary Advice is given to Librettists, Composers, Musicians of both sexes, Impresarios, Performers, Engineers, and Scene Painters, comic Characters, Tailors, Pages, Dancers, Prompters, Copyists, Protectors, and MOTHERS of female Virtuoso singers, & other People belonging to Theater." It was obvious to readers at the time that one main target was Antonio Vivaldi. The producers of this SACD have entitled it Vivaldi alla Moda because the Chamber Cantatas recorded do clearly demonstrate some of the extremes to which Vivaldi (and others) went to satisfy a fickle public. In the case of the solo cantata however, the stylistic extremes were performed to a more refined audience of 'noble aficionados'. Obviously their musical tastes were not noticeably improved by the size of their bank balances.

Listening to the first cantata Sorge vermiglia in ciel soon had me rushing to read the notes, seeking an explanation as to why Camilla de Falleiro was performing huge, and hugely dangerous, two-octave leaps and sliding her voice all over the place. This is indeed what Vivaldi demands and this is exactly the sort of extremes at which Marcello directed his barbed wit. The whole disc is not like this, indeed it is really only RV667 that requires such vocal display, but all four pieces do require virtuosity of a high degree and this Italian-Brazilian singer has most of the skills. One suspects she would have impressed the Venetian audience of the day. All strength to her for tackling such extravagant compositions, even if occasionally she slightly misses a note. What was Vivaldi expecting? Perhaps he had super-human singers at his disposal.

All four cantatas are entertaining examples of Vivaldi's art and, with detailed word-painting to help one's understanding, they are an absorbing sequence. There is a built in interval in the form of a cello sonata which is very ably performed by the cellist of Accademia Apollinea, Sophie Lamberbourg, and again this is a very enjoyable piece. Hearing a series of pieces such as these cantatas goes another step on the road to convincing listeners that Vivaldi was one of the most imaginative and creative figures of the whole Baroque era and that time spent in his company is never wasted. For those wanting more I should mention that the wonderful Mhairi Lawson sings three different chamber cantatas on Linn SACD CKD281, RV654, 680 and 799, and is less prone to drift off pitch than Ms de Falleiro: it could of course be they were less vocally extreme.

The surround recordings are spacious to the point of being somewhat indistinct as to where everyone actually is. The stereo tracks still give a splendidly spacious sound with the voice perhaps a little closer and more stably positioned. Either listening mode on this splendid SACD is worth hearing.

Dave Billinge



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