- Performer: Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic, Franco Fagioli, Valer Barna-Sabadus, Yuriy Mynenko, et al.
- Orchestra: Concerto Köln
- Conductor: Diego Fasolis
- Composer: Leonardo Vinci
- Audio CD (October 1, 2012)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 3
- Format: Import
- Label: Erato Disques
- ASIN: B008R9QAY6
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,115 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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No less than five brilliant countertenors including Philippe Jaroussky join conductor Diego Fasolis and Concerto Köln for Artaserse by Leonardo Vinci (1690-1730). In early 18th century Italy, the Neapolitan-born composer was one of the brightest stars in opera, and Artaserse is considered his masterpiece.
This recording rises above and beyond with a spectacular line-up of fine countertenors from around the world: The Frenchman Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emmanuel Cencic (from Croatia), Franco Fagioli (from Argentina), Valer Barna-Sabadus (from Romania) and Yuriy Mynenko (from Ukraine). Joining Jaroussky from Germany are a lone tenor, Daniel Behle, and the brilliant Concerto Köln, a leading ensemble in historically informed performance. Diego Fasolis, one of the brightest stars in the Italian baroque world, brings the inventive arias of this late work to life with wonderful lyricism and power ... this is one to relish. (The Observer, UK); It is clear that Diego Fasolis exults in the sophistication and beauty of the writing. His celebration of the score is not simply Parnassian it is also loving. Above all, it remains focused on the dramatic demands of the opera. (Forum Opéra, France.)
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Top Customer Reviews
I was not to be disappointed! I'd say that that Jaroussky and Cencic are talents of proven quality, but it is the agile and flamboyant Franco Fagioli who ultimately steels the show. Vinci's Artaserse has mainly lyric passages that suit, quite well, the ethereal nature of Jaroussky's high voice. Beautiful though the voice is, Jaroussky is possessed of a somewhat narrow range; however, his music is a perfect fit for his instrument and reflects the noble character of his timbre. But, narrow vocal range aside, Jaroussky brings Artaserse's heroism alive in arias like "Nuvoletta opposta al sole." Similarly, high-flying Valer Barna-Sabadus, singing Semira, recently broke onto the scene with some gorgeous, legato singing in his "Hasse: Reloaded" album. His, too, is a voice that is comfortable sitting high on the staff, and the beautiful, earthy tone is a good contrast to Jaroussky's clear, bell-like sound. The fuller sound is quite passably feminine, and Barna-Sabadus plays the wilting damsel with full conviction born of a secure technique (see aria: "Per quell'affetto" for a particularly notable example of characterization and tasteful ornamentation).
Yuriy Minenko and Daniel Behle (as a tenor, Mr. Behle has the lowest voice in the group) play the bad guy types to the hilt! Minenko's snarling Megabise brings a bright, dangerous edge to his singing as evidenced by his opening aria "Sogna il guerrier le schiere," where, horns blazing, he displays a dazzling technical mastery of bravura singing. It's a shame that Minenko doesn't have more to do, but I can definitely envision him perfecting baroque villains in the coming future (can anyone else picture his nasty Tolomeo?). Additionally, Behle seems to be one of the go-to tenors for baroque recordings these days. Steady technique makes up for a less individualistic voice, but the characterization is, indeed, vivid. The sustained "Amalo" in the latter part of the aria "Amalo e se al tuo aguardo" gives me chills each time I listen to it. I'd say that Behle's abilities have improved/solidified since recording "Farnace" in 2011.
Cencic's Mandane is a complex creature: full of fire and sadness. Mandane's opening aria illustrates Cencic's prowess in martial arias, and there is no doubt that one would not want to get on the wrong side of this princess, but it is the softer sentiments that really capture Cencic in his element. The small phrase `ingrata Semira" in Mandane's last aria, "Mi credi spietata," breaks my heart each time I hear it. Out of the entirety of the role, those two words stick with me because of the extraordinary anguish and color with which Cencic imbues his portrayal. Bravo!
And, that leaves the gentleman of the hour: Franco Fagioli. I was mildly impressed with Fagioli's album of Mozart and Handel arias, and more intrigued by his Demetrio in Alan Curtis' "Berenice." But, it is his portrayal as Arbace that really brings Fagioli's abilities to light: security of voice, impeccable coloratura, trills, agility, etc. I'd run out of superlatives discussing Fagioli's work here, but one only need listen to his aria "Vo solcando un mar crudel" to get the full picture. I'd hope that EMI continues to put his talents to good use, because Fagioli has an amazing instrument when given the right material. The duet between Mandane and Artabane is gorgeous, and it is a perfect melding of Cencic and Fagioli's different timbres.
The Concerto Köln is most ably conducted by the passionate Diego Fasolis. I'd be interested to know why Fasolis' own orchestra, I Barocchisti, wasn't employed for the recording, but I won't complain with the result here. The orchestra's verve and color bring out every nuance of Vinci's music, and both Fasolis and the players are to be commended. EMI's mastering is top notch.