Magazine article Gramophone

Von Otter and Friends Revel in Early Italian Opera Composers

Magazine article Gramophone

Von Otter and Friends Revel in Early Italian Opera Composers

Article excerpt

'Sogno Barocco'

Cavalli La Calisto--Dolcissimi baci (a); Vivo per te. Doriclea--Doriclea lamento. Elena--Sinfonia; instrumental excs Monteverdi L'incoronazione di Poppea (a)--Pur ti miro; Signor, hoggi rinasco. Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria--Di misera regina (b). Madrigals, Book 9-Si dolce e 'l tormento Provenzale Squarciato appena havea Rossi Lamento de la regina di Suezia Anne Sofie von Otter mez with (a) Sandrine Piau sop (b) Susanna Sundberg contr Ensemble Cappella Mediterranea/Leonardo Garcia Alarcon Naive (F) V5286 (71' * DDD)

More than half of this 12-track disc is taken up by four laments, three of which last around 10 minutes. Luigi Rossi was the composer of Orfeo (1647), Cardinal Mazarin's attempt to introduce Italian opera to Paris. The 'Lament of the Queen of Sweden' is an earlier work, composed on the death in battle of King Gustavus Adolphus in 1632. A narrator introduces the scene, after which the queen pours out her grief: it's all in secco recitative, apart from a short passage of Monteverdian stile concitato. Anne Sofie von Otter paces it beautifully, her feeling for the words artfully concealing the dullness of the piece.

The second lament is Squarciato appena havea, an extraordinary parody of the Rossi by Francesco Provenzale. It too begins with the narrator announcing the arrival of a messenger but the story is interrupted by outbursts of doggerel, irrelevant where not obscene. It all seems in thoroughly bad taste, but perhaps I'm missing something. Von Otter has a whale of a time and the instrumentalists join in with a chorus at the end. …

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