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
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.'