Soprano Simone Kermes sings a variety of repertoire from the Baroque to the Romantic, but it's in the Baroque where she has made the strongest impact, and she shines in this album of Vivaldi opera arias and solo cantatas. The recordings are culled from two earlier Deutsche Grammophon Archiv releases, Amor Profano and Amor Sacro, so fans of the singer who already own those albums would not be getting new material with this one. For other listeners, though, it's an attractive selection that showcases Kermes' versatility, as well as Vivaldi's.
This is a reissue of a disc originally released in the 1990s, performed on period instruments. The difference in pitch with modern instrument recordings is notable and gives a darker feeling to the sound than the brightness one has become accustomed to with the modern flute. In this recording, Konrad Hünteler uses an instrument made by Jacob Denner, which was approximately ten years old when these works were composed. The recording is made using only the natural acoustics of the space with no added technological trickery, and as such, it serves to provide an interesting example of what this music may have sounded like at the time Vivaldi composed it.
Vivaldi's many cello concertos are performed here with consummate taste and superb musicality by Roel Dieltiens and the Ensemble Explorations. Dieltiens plays with a rich tone and a light touch and his robust virtuosity and enthusiastic sympathy for the music are irresistible. The seven members of the Ensemble Explorations – five strings plus lute or guitar and organ or harpsichord – play with a sense of cooperation, which leaves this music sounding as concertos from the period should, which is to say more like chamber music. Harmonia Mundi's sound is cool and clear, yet deep and full. Though fans of modern cellos and modern performance practices might prefer more romantic interpretations, anyone with an interest in period instruments and period performance practice will want to hear these recordings.(James Leonard)
L'Oracolo in Messenia, an opera written by Vivaldi for Vienna in 1740, was reconstructed by Fabio Biondi in 2011 in a triumpan open to the famous Resonanzen festival in Vienna, appropriately enough. Originally, the opera was intended to be performed in Vienna during Carnival in 1741, but due to the death of the Austrian Emperor and ultimately, himself, his plans fell through. Vivaldi expert, Fabio Biondi, reconstructed the work using a recently discovered libretto in the Library of Congress, Viavaldi s personal scores as well as those from his contemporaries. Bajazet and Ercole sul Termodonte, two other Vivaldi operas recorded for Virgin classics, also follow the magnificent example Bondi set with L'Oracolo in Messenia. This world-premier recording of Vivaldi s last Viennese opera is led by Bondi himself on the violin and comprises a high-powered cast of soprano Julia Lezhneva; mezzo sopranos Ann Hallenberg,Vivica Genaux, Romina Basso and Franziska Gottwald; Counter tenor Xavier Sabata; and tenor Magnus Staveland. The performance was greeted with a standing ovation and it was said that The festival could not have launched its 20th anniversary in more triumphant fashion.
You may have noticed that two composers are named for this opera. As we know, opera librettos frequently were set to music by more than one composer in the 18th (and even 19th) century. Francesco Corselli was French by birth (Francois Courcelle was his real name) but worked in Parma and Madrid. His Farnace was written in 1736. Vivaldi composed his Farnace in 1727. For his performances of Vivaldi's version (in Madrid in October, 2001), the great string player and conductor Jordi Savall decided to do what was common practice back in Vivaldi's time–add some arias and other music from a contemporary work on the same subject–and for this he chose selections from Corselli's score. For the record, the bits of Corselli that Savall includes are a Sinfonia plus a recitative and aria for Berenice used as a prologue to Act 1, an aria for Farnace to begin Act 2, and a march preceding the action in Act 3–altogether a bit more than 20 minutes… –Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
What can anyone add to the praise that has deservedly been heaped on Robert King and the King's Consort's 11 discs of the complete sacred music of Vivaldi? Can one add that every single performance is first class – wonderfully musical, deeply dedicated, and profoundly spiritual?
Vivaldi's Dixit Dominus, RV 807, was added to the Vivaldi canon only in 2005; it was long attributed to Baldassare Galuppi. That shows you how minor composers don't get their due; it's a marvelous work, but it's only getting recordings now that Vivaldi's name is attached to it. At any rate, it's well worth hearing in this excellent performance by the rising British group La Nuova Musica, which has both vocal and instrumental components. They move like a well-oiled machine, making possible the clear communication of such vivid details as the musical depiction of a stream in the strings in the countertenor aria De torrente in via bibet (track 8) and the unusually elaborate fugue that concludes the work..
David Bates directs La Nuova Musica in a pair of contrasting settings of Psalm 109. Handel's masterful and ambitious HWV282 was penned in 1707 during a youthful visit to Italy. Vivaldi's vivid and economical RV807 (his third Dixit Dominus) was long mistakenly attributed to Baldassare Galuppi; it probably dates from the early 1730s. Rounding out the programme is Vivaldi's dazzling motet for solo voice, "In furore iustissimae irae", featuring soprano Lucy Crowe.