Duets

A favourite soprano in a collection of arie antiche, that genre so beloved of divas who don't like to feel they're neglecting the past

Author: 
Patrick O'Connor

Duets

  • Rodelinda, ~, Mio caro bene!
  • Se tu m'ami
  • Danza, danza, fanciulla
  • Amarilli mia bella
  • Rinaldo, ~, Lascia ch'io pianga
  • Orfeo ed Euridice, Che fiero momento
  • Achille in Sciro
  • Caro mio ben
  • Tre cicisbei ridicoli
  • Stabat mater, Cujus animam gementem
  • Stabat mater, Vidit suum dulcem Natum
  • Serse, 'Xerxes', ~, Ombra mai fu (Largo)
  • Arminio, Pur dicesti
  • (L')Amor contrastato, 'La Molinara', Nel cor più non mi sento
  • Pastorella vaga bella
  • Plaisir d'amour
  • Griselda
  • Alcina, ~, Tornami a vagheggiar
  • Ave Maria

Giulio Caccini's shade ought to be smiling on Inessa Galante, whose 1995 recording (Campion, 11/95) of his Ave Maria won her so many admirers that she re-recorded it in 1997 (Campion, 9/97) and now offers a third performance. Also included is Caccini's until recently better-known Amarilli mia bella. Recitalists have often chosen to begin their programmes with a group of these so-called ancient airs, strictly speaking not all the pieces chosen here are really ariettas, which suggests something a good deal simpler than the Handel da capo arias she sings. The idea is to warm up the voice and put the audience in a reflective mood.
An entire CD devoted to this genre requires different moods and Galante varies the fare with music almost as early as Caccini's - 'Lasciatemi morire!' from Monteverdi's L'Arianna of 1608 - as well as Paisiello's 1789 show-stopper 'Nel cor piu mi sento'. Galante's tone is constantly pleasing, her legato impressive and her skill in rapid passages acceptable. The feel, however, is a bit bland throughout. The sighing shepherdess of Pergolesi's Se tu m'ami and the elegantly cynical lover of Martini's Plaisir d'amour emerging much the same. (If you want to hear what an opera singer can get out of these, hear Supervia in the former or Vanni-Marcoux in the latter.)
Where Galante really scores are in the two dramatic arias which come as a relief from the generally lovesick atmosphere. In 'Che fiero momento' from Gluck's Orfeo and 'Tornami a vagheggiar' from Handel's Alcina, she transports us into the opera house. As for the new arrangement of Caccini's Ave Maria, those fans who buy this CD to hear it may find themselves spurred on to investigate some greater works - Pergolesi's Stabat mater or Handel's Rodelinda. Mark Stephenson and London Musici provide spirited accompaniments in the mostly rather lush arrangements.'

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