Classical reviews: December 22

St Petersburg. Cecilia Bartoli (soprano), I Barochisti. Decca CD

Bravo to Bartoli for finding new, interesting music, just as she did in previous album Mission (works by Steffani).

Here her research into archives in St Petersburg found 11 world premiere recordings by Manfredini, Cimarosa and other composers (mainly Italian) imported into Tsarist Russia by Catherine the Great and two other 18th-century tsaritsas, giving birth to the Russian Baroque.

The period instrument group I Barochisti again accompanies, conducted by Diego Fasolis, and the singer displays that fabulous voice, trademark passionate delivery, vibrato and spectacular coloratura.

All this is packaged in a lavish, colour-illustrated book and is commendable.

It is her first recording in Russian as well as Italian, but apart from some of the slower arias, the material is hardly an exceptionally outstanding discovery.

Highlight: That voice impresses once again.

 


Bach: Violin Concertos. Giuliano Carmignola (violin). Concerto Koln. Archiv CD

How best to end the year than with some Bach!

Carmignola comes from Venice and succeeds with his aim to ''cast fresh light upon these much-loved masterpieces by imbuing them with all the joyfulness of his Venetian sound''.

So although certainly a fine baroque violinist and accompanied by a great period instrument ensemble (led by Mayumi Hirasaki, who joins him in the double concerto), he manages to give this ethereal music a fresh and vivid flavour, almost folksy.

There are also the four concertos for violin, strings and continuo - the often performed A minor and E minor ones, plus two new reconstructions of works originally for violin in G minor and D minor that now only survive in their harpsichord concerto versions.

Highlight: Exquisite Bach sounds that sparkle.


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