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Karina Gauvin: Prima Donna
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Canadian superstar soprano Karina Gauvin pays tribute to Baroque diva Anna Maria Strada del P+Ý, singing rarities by Vinci, Vivaldi and some of the greatest Handel arie di bravura. Gavin has impressed audiences and critics the world over with her luscious timbre, profound musicality and wide vocal range. She is featured with the Arion Baroque Orchestra, Quebec's only early music orchestra performing on period instruments.
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It was reported that Anna Maria Strada was a soprano even more capable than Faustina Bordoni.
The great Handel 'dramatic' soprano roles of Angelica and Alcina in 'Orlando' and 'Alcina' were composed for Strada. So one can safely assume that while Gauvin has not yet committed to recording these two roles, her sampling of them on this album is calculated to offer a benchmark of these important roles' performances.
And it is a tremendously satisfying outing. Apart from Alcina and Angelica, Adelaide and Atalanta are other two Strada roles (so, no co-incidence, the four 'A's), while Emilia in 'Sosarme' is a Cuzzoni role. Similarly, the role of Rosanne in Vivaldi's 'La Verita in Cimento' was a Strada role, and the role of Ermione in Vinci's 'Astianatte' was also a Strada role.
Apart from the operatic arias, in this album we are treated with three instrumental pieces, slow movements from Handel's Concerto Grosso Op. 3, Op. 6 and an Overture of Lotario. Suffice it to say that the Op. 3 Concerto Grosso's Adagio second movement contains a musical motiff of 'Tamerlano' duet 'Vivo in Te', while the Op. 6 Concerto Grosso's second movement Adagio the aria of Cleopatra 'Piangere' in 'Giulio Cesare in Egitto'.
What sets Gauvin apart from other baroque sopranos is her maintaining a healthy vibrato even in this genre of works, yet without intruding onto the harmonics of the instrumental tutti parts. As all singers know, a healthy vibrato is essential to really good singing, and singing without any vibrato is an acquired taste.
This is an album that will satisfy the most demanding Handel aficionado.
The works included in this album of remembrance are as follows:
George Frideric Handel
Sosarme, HWV 30: Dite pace
Orlando, HWV 31: Verdi piante, erbette liete
Lotario, HWV 26: Scherza in mar
Atalanta, HWV 35: Care selve 5.
Alcina, HWV 34: Si son quella! , Ah! Ruggiero crudel...Ombre pallide and Ah! mio cor! schemito sei!
Astianatte: Tortorella se rimira
An orchestral interlude: Handel's Concerti grossi (6), Op. 3: no 1 in B flat major
La verità in cimento, RV 739: Addio caro .
Orchestra interlude: Handel's Overture to Lotario and Concerti grossi Op. 6: no 8 in C minor, Adagio
George Frideric Handel
Orlando, HWV 31: No, non potra
Flavio, Rè di Longobardi, HWV 16: Da te parto
Karina Gauvin deserves the title Prima Donna here. She is in splendid vocal estate and brings bravura to the technical wonders as well as a constant sense of being at one with the various characters she portrays. A gorgeous album, this! Grady Harp, October 12