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The Vivaldi Album

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Audio CD, February 13, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

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Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli could easily rest on her laurels as one of today's most charismatic, characterful singers for her lively portrayals of Mozart and Rossini heroines. But it's been particularly exciting to observe her growth as an artist in exploring the exuberant world of Baroque opera, with its range of pyrotechnic demands--both vocal and emotional. Bartoli's show-stopping virtuosity in a Vivaldi aria from her Live in Italy recital gave a tantalizing sample of her finesse in that style. For The Vivaldi Album (originally released in 1999), Bartoli conducted extensive research into the composer's manuscripts (a documentary tracing her quest has been made).

Although he's best known for his concertos--in typically Baroque fashion, two of the arias here, in fact, recycle material from The Four Seasons--Antonio Vivaldi was a ferociously prolific composer of operas for the cutting-edge theaters of his time, and the arias gathered here demonstrate the word-painting magic of his music, from the sylvan setting of dueting flageolets in "Di due rai languire costante" to the storm-tossed passions of "Anch'il mar par che sommerga," where Bartoli spins out ripples of rapid-fire coloratura with a gravity-defying accuracy that will leave your head spinning. In addition to many such examples of vocal acrobatics, Bartoli brings exquisite nuance and limpid tone to the delicate echo effects of "Zeffiretti, che sussurrate," and there's no better test for the remarkable flexibility of her range--full and dusky at the bottom and thrilling at the top--than the huge intervallic leaps of "Dopo un'orrida procella." With her naturally large voice, Bartoli can at times tend to histrionic excess (in the recitative to the short aria from "L'Orlando finto pazzo," for example), but the expressive color of her phrasing is wonderfully matched throughout by the Giardino Armonico's lively panache. All power to Bartoli in her goal of reviving this neglected aspect of Vivaldi's output. The reissue includes additional photos and text, packaged together as a visually enticing booklet to accompany this splendid CD. --Thomas May


1. Dorilla in Tempe: Dell'aura sussurrar
2. Griselda: Dopo un'orrida procella
3. Foa 28: Di due rai languir costante
4. L'Orlando finto pazzo: Qual favellar? - Andero volero gridero
5. Foa 28: Zeffiretti che sussurrate
6. La fida ninfa: Alma oppressa
7. La fida ninfa: Dite oime
8. Giustino: Sventurata navicella
9. Giustino: Sorte che m'invitasti - Ho nel petto un cor si forte
10. L'Olimpiade: Tra le follie - Siam navi all'onde algenti
11. Farnace: Gelido in ogni sommerga
12. Bajazet: Anch'il mar par che sommerga
13. Teuzzone: Di trombe guerriere

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 13, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B000058TAM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,742 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I was amazed with this album of super fine music. I had known all my life that Vivaldi wrote tons of operas, but finding them, or the scores of them, was nearly impossible. In time I found a few, and was I ever amazed and disappointed. The published scores that were available were what was common practice of that time: there were the vocal lines and a figured bass and nothing more. There were no indications of orchestration. Even with that little bit, I was shocked with the intensity and complexity of this vocal writing. This man knew how to write for the voice. Until singers are willing to research his works, we, the public, will know him for a very orchestra suites and nothing more. The result will be a very stilted view of what the man had to offer.
Now getting to the performance by Bartoli. She really loves this music, as you can tell. Yes, she is mannered in some of the things she does, but that is her way of seeing the music. Her technical skills are amazing, and her interpretations (the "drama" behind the music) is just as intense. Some think Bartoli has a strong voice. Actually, her voice is very small, if you have heard her in performance (they weren't even sure she would be heard when she sang at the Met), and it has a very delicate quality, even when being "brash." Recordings give you the impression she has a much larger sound than she does, but that is because small voices record truer and better than large ones (the industry still can't capture large voices at all). However, even with a small voice, in performance she is breathtaking. She makes the music live.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tom Williams on February 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Like all Bartoli fans, I was ready for some fairly remarkable things when first informed, more than two years ago, that the "Vivaldi" project was in the works. Cecilia's inspired treatment of "Agitata da due venti" on the "Live in Italy" album. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the journey in store on this CD. The familiarity, (thematically, at least) with the opening number,"Dell aura al sussurrar" only begins to open the door to vistas even dedicated Vivaldi lovers had never seen. Proceeding through the set, which, by the way, includes no fewer than SIX world premiere recordings, Cecilia stuns with the rapid-fire coloratura of "Sventurata navicella" and "Anch il par mar sommerga", brings her luscious, focused sound to "Zeffiretti che sussurate" and "Dite oime", and in between, brings to life songs which, while never achieving the poetic heights of those by some other composers, nonetheless provide a musical challenge which only a singer of Bartoli's particular talents (or perhaps someone like Natalie Dessay?) could surmount. Having had the good fortune to see her do most of this set live in Boston in October,2000, I find the comparisons between the live recital performance and this ablum inevitable but the recording, benefiting from the virtuosity of the musicians of Il Gardino Armonico, is more satisfying sonically. No one can match Cecilia Bartoli for sheer excitement on stage, her charisma is unmatched, but this CD is as close as one can get to actually being there for one of the most exciting performances in recent memory.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Cecilia Bartoli is absolutely my favorite and this aria collection simply must be heard to be believed. It is that good. Bartoli's renditions on this CD are brilliant...even for Bartoli. Even if she had never recorded another thing, before or after The Vivaldi Album, this would be enough to assure her of lasting fame, and rightly so.
Bartoli takes us through the most incredibly florid passages with grace, authority and vocal perfection. Her voice exhibits a passion that mezzos usually reserve for Amneris and Eboli. She is unbelievably precise when singing phrases like, "Andero, volero, gridero," from L'Orlando finto pazzo.
It was Bartoli, herself, who researched the material for this CD in Turin's National Library, according to the notes. Six of the arias have been unrecorded until now, and all thirteen in this collection are undeniably fascinating and some of the best Bartoli has ever done. Although a gorgeous mezzo, she negotiates stunning coloratura showpieces ("Anch'il mar par che sommerga," from Bajazet) with absolute precision and abandonment and places them next to charming pastoral arias and melancholy airs. Vivaldi, who treated the voice as though it were a violin, wrote passages that can be incredibly difficult to sing, but Bartoli accomplishes all wish ease. Two of the arias included, "Dell'aura al sussurrar," from Dorilla in Tempe and "Gelido in ogni vena," from Farnace, share material with The Four Seasons (the first movements of "Spring" and "Winter."
Although Bartoli's vocals captures the spotlight on this CD, the instrumentals cannot be overlooked.
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