Faustina Bordoni was one half of Handel’s so-called ‘Rival Queens’ for just under three seasons (172628), and in 1730 she married Hasse in Venice – so Vivica Genaux’s recital of arias for Faustina by Handel and Hasse is such an obviously sensible idea that it’s amazing it hasn’t been done before. Quantz praised Faustina’s immaculate articulation and excellent trills – and Genaux lives up to that vocal artistry brilliantly with the copious trills and arching melodic phrases in the long but lovely ‘Piange quel fonte’ from Hasse’s Numa Pompilio.
For fans of Il Giardino Armonico's flamboyant flourishes and exuberant expressiveness, it's like having all your birthdays at once, being presented with this great Warner Classics 11 CD set. My own feeling is that this "free" approach to Baroque music is at its best when applied to the theatrical music of disc 8 or the seventeenth century Italian music on disc 1. The showmanship and playfulness is an absolute joy in many of those pieces. I'm less satisfied with the interpretations of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, (on discs 10 and 11), which require a different approach, I feel. I like my Bach to be a little more measured and subtle, I suppose. It has no need of the Il Giardino Armonico treatment. On the whole, though, I do love this set and wouldn't be without it.
Dutch-born composer Johannes Schenck is another in a long line of Baroque composers whose works are only now being discovered and given their first modern performances. Thanks to the intrepid investigative work of harpsichordist Pieter Dirksen – a member of the ensemble La Suave Melodia heard here – a set of 12 trio sonatas of Schenck's Opus 3 that were thought to be lost have been unearthed.
A beautiful scenic film by Olivier Simonnet. Filmed in high-definition widescreen. Cecilia Bartoli sings virtuoso arias from her Sacrificium album, on location in and around the spectacular baroque palace of Caserta in Southern Italy, just outside of Naples. This unique film shows Cecilia Bartoli in full costume singing a selection of showpiece arias written for the castrato stars of the Neapolitan school. Ravishing locations including the Court Theatre, the stunning Vestibule and the Palace Gardens. Arias include Handel's "Ombra mai fu" and Broschi's "Son qual nave"–previously only available in the deluxe version of the album. The film also showcases the leading Italian period ensemble Il Giardino Armonico under their director Giovanni Antonini. Special bonus features include an illustrated interview in which Cecilia Bartoli talks about the Sacrificium project, and a visual guide to the Palace, town and region of Caserta. (amazon.com)