Friday, May 27, 2011

Tomaso Albinoni - Climene (Serenata) - Bezzina, Ensemble Baroque de Nice







Instrumental ensemble music (sonatas and concertos) and secular vocal music (operas and solo cantatas) were to be Albinoni's two areas of activity in a remarkably long career as a composer which terminated with a prematurely entitled ‘oeuvre posthume’ (six violin sonatas, c1740) and the opera Artamene (1741). Albinoni's reputation has fluctuated, but is probably higher now than at any time since his own age, when his instrumental music was much in demand all over Europe, particularly among amateurs, and was ranked with that of Corelli, Vivaldi and (in France) Mascitti. Albinoni's strongest asset is the pronounced individuality of his music, to which the insularity of his life may have contributed. Tomaso Albinoni His output may be largely mass-produced, but his ideas are all his own. If the instrumental music seems certain to survive, the same cannot yet be said of his vocal music despite its equally historical importance. His Climene was written in 1718 for the Teatro S Angelo in Venice.

This is one of the most attractive pieces by Albinoni which I have heard. Following an engaging three-movement `Sinfonia' with trumpet comes a succession of nine da capo arias and two ensembles for the three characters, interspersed with an agreeably well-proportioned quantity of recitative. I have little but praise for the vocalists since they capture the spirit of the music and, one might easily imagine, the occasion, with style and finesse. The arias, without exception, are engaging and nicely contrasted with one another. Some, of course, are headier concoctions than others; Climene's vernal "Qual passato freddo verno", captivatingly sung by Poulenard is one of the loveliest numbers here, but hardly less beguiling are Ciddipe's "Gii Pletre e Cetre" with mandolin, and "Se ne andar liberi i campi", somewhat reminiscent of Elpina's "Aure lievi che spirate" in the First Act of Vivaldi's opera La fida Ninfa (1732); Visse's articulation, declamation and musical sensibility call for the strongest commendation. Elwes is impressive too, and I particularly enjoyed his rather Handelian "II nome degli Eroi". The two trios ending Parts 1 and 2 of the serenata are splendid, a notably successful conjunction of vocal talent. The Nice Baroque Ensemble directed by Gilbert Bezzina provide strong support throughout, not always refined in ensemble but never less than adequate and usually a good deal more than that. Albinoni and the performers have discharged themselves with flying colours. Excellent recorded sound.



flac, booklet

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