Thursday, 10 May 2018

CD Review (The Straits Times, May 2018)

with Orfeo 55
Erato 0190295765293 / *****

Whenever the subject of “aria antiche” comes up, one invariably thinks of old Italian songs in singing lessons watched over by crusty teachers of a didactic bent. 

French contralto Nathalie Stutzmann completely dispels that notion, breathing fresh new air to 19th century voice pedagogue Alessandro Parisotti's collections of “teaching” songs. Seeking out original contexts of 17 such songs, some from operas, cantatas and others as stand-alone arias, the results are breathtaking.

In Francesco Conti's cantata Doppo tante e tante pene (After So Much Suffering), from which the titular aria Quella Fiamma (The Fire That Burns Me) arises, and one is immediately in awe of Stutzmann's agility and outsized vocal range, especially in the low registers. Handel's Ah! Mio cor, schernito sei (Oh, My Heart, You Are Scorned) from Alcina simply sizzles from the depth of emotion displayed. Also enjoy the variety provided by composers like Scarlatti, Bononcini, Cesti, Caccini and Carissimi among others.

There are also familiar favourites: Martini's Plaisir d'Amour (Pleasures of Love, sung in French), Paisiello's Nel cor piu non mi sento (I No Longer Feel In My Heart) and Se tu m'ami (If You Love Me), once thought to be by Pergolesi, but now attributed to Parisotti himself. Purely orchestral pieces, also conducted by Stutzmann, add to the immense pleasure of this outstanding recital disc.

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