“Sogno Barroco” – Anne Sophie von Otter, mezzo-sop./ Sandrine Piau, sop./ Susanna Sundberg, contralto/ Ensemble Capella Mediterranea/ Leonardo Garcia Alarcon – Naïve 5682, 71:00 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
Anne Sophie von Otter has spent a lifetime studying and perfecting the art of baroque music, but this is the first time she has indulged her talent in the service of the early baroque exclusively on record, and for her it was a pleasant change to visit the flip side of the coin. Most notable baroque music uses the recitative as an introductory dramatic device and then launches into an extended aria. But in the early baroque, when composers like Monteverdi had only recently anchored the harmonic system from various modalities into strict tonality, the recitative was the primary device used for the carrying of the drama. This music is intimately wedded to the nuances and syllabic variances of each word, and only then followed by short and usually heightened emotional arias underlying their significance.
Each of the four composers on this disc is a master at the art of discreet expression and uncommon melodic creation. From the incomparable “Pur ti miro” from Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea (though this aria’s authorship is disputed by some, said to have been composed by Cavalli at Monteverdi’s instigation) to Rossi’s wonderful Lamento de la Regina di Suecia (the lament being perhaps the number one formal expressive device of the early baroque), Von Otter and her accomplices seduce us with a wonderful recital of famous and not-so-famous works that are guaranteed to please.
Added to the mix are three sterling instrumentals played to perfection by the lively and sensitive Ensemble Capella Mediterranea. The 90-page booklet with texts and translations complements the resonant and nicely-balanced sound on this recording, making for a first-class production.
MONTEVERDI: Si dolce è ‘l tormento; L’Incoronazione di Poppea – Pur ti miro; Signor, oggi rinasco; Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria – Di misera Regina
CAVALLI: Elena (Venezia, 1659); La Calisto – Vivo per te, Dolcissimi baci; Doriclea – Lamento
PROVENZALE: Squarciato appena havea
ROSSI: Lamento de la Regina di Suecia
A cascading sweep of keyboard miniatures