Classical reviews

Geoff Adams reviews  Duetti by Philippe Jarousky and Max Cencic (countertenors) and String Trio Sapphires, by Tres Cordes String Trio.

Duetti. Philippe Jarousky, Max Cencic (countertenors). Virgin CD.

Backed well by Les Arts Florissants chamber ensemble (basso continuo and two violins led and inspired by the great William Christie at the harpsichord or organ), two talented countertenors show off their high voices and elegant technical abilities. The "duetti" are duets, solo and dialogue recitatives and arias, mostly composed between 1680 and 1720, by Scarlatti and five other lesser-recorded baroque composers.

Marcello's Chiaro e limpido is the 20-minute highlight, with rich orchestration, the singers showing virtuosity in solos and intertwining voices exquisitely in the duets. A Scarlatti duet ends the recital, after other works by Bononcini, Mancini, Porpora and Marcello. Heavenly music; booklet provides useful notes, libretti and translations.

Highlight: Conti's cantata has the duo imitate the song of a nightingale, its soaring flight and beating wings.


> String Trio Sapphires. Tres Cordes String Trio. Ode CD.

Described as "sapphires" are Haydn's Trio Op.32 and Divertimento No.4 in C major, Boccherini's Trio Op.38 No.1, a Trio Movement (1816) by Schubert, Trio No.2 by Kleczynski, and a Duo for violin and cello Op.19 by Stamitz.

"Sapphires", rather than diamonds, perhaps because these are lesser-known classics.

But the New Zealand musicians, Cathy Irons (violin), Serenity Thurlow and Tomas Hurnik (cello), give them a proper polish and some sparkle.

The three are members of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and have been performing together since 2007.

Not surprisingly, the Haydn and Schubert works are the most interesting in their artistry and the other composers' music less memorable. The booklet is not informative, apart from biographical notes about the trio.

Highlight: pleasant harmonies in Haydn's three-movement Trio.


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