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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Arie e cantate per contralto
Delphine Galou (contralto)
Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone
rec. 2018, Sala Oriani, Convento San Francesco, Bagnacavallo, Italy
NAVE OP30584 [57:47]

Step away from Vivaldi’s numerous concertos, and there is a feast of vocal works that seldom see the light of day. It is all the more pleasing that this the latest disc, volume 60 in Nave’s Vivaldi Edition, presents three fairly dramatic cantatas along with eight arias for contralto, a real tour de force for the often forgotten voice. I collect the vocal works in this series; the three volumes of Concerti e cantate da camera are particular favourites. I was, therefore, more than pleased to have the opportunity to review this disc.

My primary interest was in the three cantatas. They are very dramatic, as can be heard from the very beginning of the first of the cantatas. Cessate, omai cessate shows Vivaldi at his best in writing for solo voice, and at his most inventive. The orchestral backing not only contains pizzicato strings, but a starring role for the lute. This is carried through into the other cantatas. Both O mie porpore pi belle and Qual in pioggia dorata combine wonderful vocal lines with inventive instrumental writing. It all makes me wish for Nave to have recorded the fourth cantata as well.

The arias on this disc come from five operas. Vivaldi claimed to have composed no fewer than ninety-four operas, though only around fifty have so far been identified. They have suffered in the past, and are usually neglected by recording companies in favour of Vivaldi’s instrumental music. I have a few complete opera recordings in the Vivaldi Edition, but even here there are omissions; perhaps more will be recorded. The arias recorded here show just how accomplished a composer for the dramatic voice Vivaldi was. Some complicated and difficult writing really tests the singer. Delphine Galou, I am glad to say, rises to every challenge, especially in S, si bel volto che v’adoro from the opera La Candace o siano li veri amici from 1720.

The performance is first rate. Delphine Galou has featured elsewhere in the series, and he proves the star. Her vocal agility brings this fabulous music to life. This is not to diminish the contribution of Accademia Bizantina and Ottavio Dantone, whose playing is detailed and atmospheric. The recorded sound and the booklet notes are of the usual high quality that we have come to expect from the Vivaldi Edition. Full texts and translations are included. This most entertaining disc has brought me much enjoyment.

Stuart Sillitoe

Cessate, omai cessate, Cantata RV 684 [12:04]
Liquore ingrato (aria di Tito Manlio, RV 738) [5:09]
L'innocenza sfortunata (aria di Tieteberga RV 737) [2:06]
Care pupille (aria di La Candace o siano li veri amici RV 704) [3:41]
O mie porpore pi belle, Cantata RV 685 [7:28]
Andr fida e sconsolata (aria di Tito Manlio, RV 738) [3:56]
S, si bel volto che v’adoro (aria di La Candace o siano li veri amici RV 704) [3:56]
Semplice non temer (aria di La verit in cimento RV 739) [4:00]
Qual in pioggia dorata, Cantata RV 686 [9:20]
Per dar pace al tuo dolore (aria di La Candace o siano li veri amici RV 704) [3:20]
pur dolce ad un’anima amante (aria di Il Giustino RV 717) [2:43]

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