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CALDARA. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo. Schola Cantorum/Jacob

Maria Cristina Kiehr, Bernarda Fink, Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, René Jacobs Andreas Scholl Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 30.28 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Disc: 1
1. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte prima: No.1 Sinfonia
2. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte prima: No.2 'Aria : Dormi, o cara, e formi il sonno' (Amor Terreno)
3. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte prima: No.3 Recitativo; 'Cosi godea la mente' (Amor Terreno)
4. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte prima: No.4 Aria; 'Deh, librate amoretti' (Amor Terreno)
5. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte prima: No.5 Recitativo; 'Del sonno lusinghiero' (Amor Celeste, Amor Terreno)
6. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte prima: No.6 Aria; 'La ragione, s'un'alma conseglia' (Amor Celeste)
7. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte prima: No.7 Recitativo; 'Cosi sciolta da'lacci de'sui error' (Amor Celeste, Amor Terreno)
8. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte prima: No.8 Allegro; 'Alle vittorie' (Amor Celeste, Amor Terreno)
9. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte prima: No.9 Recitativo; 'Oime, troppo importuno' (Maddalena)
10. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte prima: No.10 Aria; 'In un bivio e il mio volere' (Maddalena)
See all 28 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte seconda: No.29 Sinfonia
2. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte seconda: No.30 Recitativo; 'Donna grande e fastosa' (Fariseo)
3. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte seconda: No.31 Aria; 'Parti, che di virtu il gradito splendor' (Fariseo)
4. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte seconda: No.32 Recitativo; 'Cingan pure quest'alma' (Maddalena, Cristo, Fariseo)
5. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte seconda: No.33 Aria; 'Chi con sua cetra' (Maddalena)
6. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte seconda: No.34 Recitativo; 'Maddalena, deh, ferma' (Amor Terreno, Amor Celeste, Fariseo, Maddalena)
7. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte seconda: No.35 Aria; 'In lagrime stemprato il cor qui cade' (Maddalena)
8. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte seconda: No.36 Recitativo; 'Oh ciel, chi vide mai la penitenza' (Amor Terreno, Amor Celeste, Cristo)
9. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte seconda: No.37 Aria; 'Ride il ciel e gl'astri brillano' (Cristo )
10. Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo: Parte seconda: No.38 Recitativo; 'a tuo dispetto, Amor Terreno' (Amor Celeste, Amor Terreno)
See all 31 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Amazon.ca

One should expect nothing less from the world's first city of opera, Venice, than that its oratorios sound like operas. This gorgeous work (from about 1700) takes a reasonably bald Biblical story--the repentance and conversion of Mary Magdalene--and turns it into a psychodrama of profound intensity, as the forces of Earthly and Celestial love battle for the Magdalene's soul. Just as in opera seria, each character is given an 'anger' aria, a lament, an expression of anguish and so on, so that every singer has a chance to demonstrate the whole range of his or her voice--and on this recording those voices are superb. Andreas Scholl brings an eager warmth to the role of Celestial Love, while Maria Cristina Kiehr gives an edge of wildness to the drama of Mary Magdalen's conflict. The acoustic of the recording also captures perfectly the aura of Venetian sensuousness that one associates with St Mark's, say, without sacrificing the need for clarity of detail. The orchestra is never less than excellent, and director René Jacobs keeps the drama at fever pitch. --Warwick Thompson

Product Description

Caldara, Venise et l'oratorio...
Importé à Venise plus de 70 ans après sa naissance, l'oratorio connaît à partir de 1690 un fort regain d'intérêt dans la cité des doges - ce grâce à Antonio Caldara. Ses quelque quarante contributions au genre s'imposent au tournant du XVIIIe siècle comme des oeuvres maîtresses, dont Marie-Madeleine aux pieds du Christ serait en somme l'étendard. A l'intérieur d'un cadre structurel fixe (récit/air), le compositeur parvient à une intensité dramatique étonnant, qui n'est pas sans évoquer Pergolesi ou le Vivaldi du Stabat Mater.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Impeccable! March 17 2004
Format:Audio CD
It took almost a year 'till I finally got this CD and it was worth while waiting. This is undoubtedly the best CD in my collection (out of 400 titles), and I would highly recommend it to any Baroque lover: pure celestial voices, perfect direction and an amazing music which brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it, eventhough I'm not religious nor christian.
Dear reader, trust me on this - you must have it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and luxurious masterpiece Sept. 25 2000
By J. R. Gunsell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Action-packed and luxurious.
Despite the title of this piece, this is not 'churchy' music. It has everything that good drama has, and if it were a book it would be unputdownable. Caldara gives us action, showing himself to be every bit as much dramatist as composer. The story and the pace never flag for a minute. René Jacobs moves it along at a cracking pace and makes it a memorable event. It must have been wonderful to take part.
Amor Celeste and Amor Terreno are battling for the heart and soul of Maddalena. It opens with Fink's stunning Amor Terreno, seductive enough to capture the heart of a stone. In trying to win Maddalena, her ornamentations paint vivid pictures of "drunk with pleasure". Then, in charges Scholl's Amor Celeste, powerful and confident of winning the battle hands down - but then so is Fink's Amor Terreno, full of strength and depth. You can't take sides at their declaration of war, the duet Alle vittorie, because both are convincing - and their voices blend perfectly. The sheer strength of Scholl's voice in this piece brushes aside the familiar accusations of "too ethereal".
Their awesome battle duets punctuate the unfolding drama as Maddalena agonises - in dialogue with her sister - over her choices, and the orchestra supports them with real fire. The chest-thumping opening provided by Chiara Banchini's string band in the duet La mia virtude/Il senso è un nemico makes an impact that would lift you off your seat in a concert hall (if only). When Amor Terreno is finally defeated, the colours of her fury are so vivid you can taste it, and it's clear that the only destiny for such rage is Hell. Amor Celeste's victory-celebration Su, lieti festeggiate has the earthy gusto of mens' peasant dances. A rather earthy sound for Amor Celeste at this point... even the metaphysical Mr Scholl sounds as though he could stomp his feet.
This recording made Maria Cristina Kiehr a star, and she has never sounded better than as Maddalena. Her clear voice expresses longing, indecision, passion and tranquillity with equal facility, and is never less than completely beautiful. Her expressions, as Maddalena changes course, develop brilliantly. Her cry of "Signor, pietate!" is the pivot of the whole thing - high drama indeed.
All the singers are now stars, and every performance is stunning. Un-improvable.
So many of the tunes are completely original and whistle-able, even dance-able, that I am surprised they are not better known. They certainly stick in the memory, if only because the repeat button on the CD player gets a lot of use. This composition is a masterpiece and the 2-CD set a great Baroque luxury.
The very last note is a complete surprise -- pure genius from Caldara.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maria Cristina Kiehr is incomparable! Feb. 17 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is an incredible recording: it is well worth buying just for the marvelous singing of Maria Cristina Kiehr, who is my candidate for the best baroque soprano. She sounds like nobody else: more like a boy treble (with adult lungs) than your typical female soprano. This characterization may strike you as strange, but it is intended as the highest praise. Reportedly, "She sings like a man," was the first sentence di Stefano uttered when he heard Callas for the first time. The rest of the cast doesn't disappoint either. Bernarda Fink and Andreas Scholl are excellent "Amors," especially memorable in their duets. Fink's alto voice is beautiful and controlled. If you haven't heard her Arnalta in L'Incoronazione di Poppea (Gardiner), make sure you buy that recording. Fink's "Oblivion soave," a deceptively simple aria which requires a perfect legato, is the best I've heard. Scholl is great as usual (although I never quite bought into this Scholl hype). Gerd Turk who sings a small role of Cristo has a fine tenor voice, although he suffers from a common baroque tenor "defect" - he sounds kind of "choked," like he has a tight rope around his neck. Obviously, this is not really a defect, but rather a part of a vocal style which calls for the tightening of the voice in order to achieve a higher pitch and to stifle the vibrato. Still, I prefer tenors like Agnew or Padmore who manage to achieve that same characteristic baroque sonority while also sounding relaxed. Anyway, like I said, "Maddalena" is really worth buying. Another recording (from the same series) that will also be worth every penny you'd spend on it is Cavalli Vespro della Beata Vergine. If you like "Maddalena," I guarantee that you will like the Vespro too.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a discovery! Dec 8 1999
By J. Luis Juarez Echenique - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Antonio Caldara is one of those names record companies have ignored for too long. So it was a delight to see Harmonia Mundi interested in this very important baroque composer. The work itself is a masterpiece, the music is gorgeous, this must be one of the most significant discoveries of the 90's. Conductor Rene Jacobs has a superb ear for textures, his pacing is just admirable. The soloists couldn't be bettered, with the pure adorable voice of Maria Cristina Kiehr as Maddalena, and Bernarda Fink and Andreas Scholl as the Amore Terreno and Amore Celeste. If you don't know this oratorio, you are in for a big surprise!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a voice teacher and early music fan Oct. 12 2006
By George Peabody - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
A STELLAR RECORDING WITH FIRST CLASS SINGERS, GREAT MUSIC AND EXCELLENT DIRECTING!

'Mary Magdalene at the feet of Christ' is a rare gem of Baroque sacred music by Antonia Caldara (1670-1736), who ranks among the most prolific of the late-baroque composers associated with the Oratorio. Building upon established traditions, the Venetian composer, who was a master of the genre, achieves an astounding dramatic instensity in this work. The Oratorio as a musical form emerged toward the end of the 17th century as a kind of spiritual exercise encouraged by the 'Oratorio Congregation of Rome'. The most prolific composer in this genre was Caldara, who wrote approximately 43 oratorios, and no doubt many more have been lost.

'Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo' was probably wrttten around 1700 in Rome. The cohesive libretto by Lodovici Forni is based on Luke 7:36-50, with the addition of Martha from John 11: 1-2 and 12: 1-4. For dramatic purposes the figures of 'Celestial and Earthly Love'(representing Good and Evil) is in combat for the soul of Magdalena, whose anguish-not shown in the Bible story- are movingly depicted.

There are 6 characters in this oratorio: Maddalena (Maria Christina Kiehr-soprano); Marta (Rosa Dominguez-soprano); Amor Terrano (Bernarda Fink-alto); Amor Celeste (Andreas Scholl-countertenor); Fariseo (Ulrich Mesthaler-basso); Cristo(Gerd Turk-tenor).

The part of 'Amor Celeste' was given to the countertenor (sexless,so to speak) to denote the heavenly spheres. The part of 'Amor terrano' in the sensual raiment of a woman, is supposed to represent worldly seduction. It is these 2 protagonists, moreover, who motivate the plot. 'Amor terrano' metamorphoses from a figure cast in neutral terms at the beginning to a "devlish" but defeated seductress at the end. In the process the merit of having conquered the depths of evil devolves upon Maddalena. She is elevated into a position which exemplifies Christian salvation. The modest share allotted to Christ as a "dramatis persona" (not a bass, but a soaring tenor) emphasizes Maddalena's merit all the more.

This is conventional music for its time; all arias are in 'da capo' form, some are small-scale and intimate and scored for 'continuo' only while others are expanded and more flamboyant and operatic. The instrumental writing is ever imaginative and expressive, and many of the arias, especially those of Maddalena who gives up her worldly pleasures and turns to Jesus.

Under Rene Jacob's expert guidance the singers and the instrumental group provide fluent and expressive performances. Kiehr has a lovely clear voice and converts Maddlena's emotions with much feeling. Fink's final aria'"Voi del Tartaro"(You, O Horrible Caves of Tartarus) is brilliantly defiant, while Dominguez is quite effective as Martha. Andreas Scholl sings in his usual skillful manner, not quite as celestial as I would prefer, but always with strength and security of sound. Gerd Turk as Cristo (an all too-brief role) has such an excellent resonant sound; I really love his overall vocal quality. Messthaler, also in a small role ,as the Pharisee, projected his role with clarity and skill.

This is a stellar production with Rene Jacobs' magic touch and inspired conducting AND a wealth of unforgettable arias sung by a stellar cast!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irresistible baroque masterpiece April 8 2014
By Stephen Midgley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There are already several well-informed and highly appreciative reviews here on Amazon, including those from J. R. Gunsell, George Peabody 'Ariel', Giordano Bruno and A Customer, so I will confine myself to just a few more comments and state my absolute agreement with all these other 5-star verdicts.

Caldara's oratorio depicts the inner struggle, between heavenly and earthly love, for the soul and conscience of Mary Magdalene, in her 'repentant sinner' persona as frequently depicted since biblical times. It's a highly effective formula for drama, emotion and for music both heavenly and seductive, and Caldara makes the most of these opportunities. To list just a few highlights among many passages of great beauty, there's Amor Terreno (Earthly love)'s poignant first aria 'Dormi, o cara' (CD1/2); the powerful, characterful melody of Amor Celeste (Heavenly love)'s aria 'La ragione' (6); Maddalena's tormented recitative 'Oimè, troppo importuno' (9), followed by her beautiful, tortured aria 'In un bivio' (10) with wonderfully expressive instrumental support. Then there's the superb melody of 'Fin che danzan' from Amor Terreno who, of course, gets many of the best tunes (14); the wonderful Handelian melodies of 'Il sentier' (20) and Maddalena's 'Diletti non più vanto' (22), her graceful 'Voglio piangere' (26), and the ferocity of the musical contest between Terreno and Celeste in 'La mia virtude' (28).

In the second part (CD2), there are further delights in Maddalena's lovely aria over a walking bass 'In lagrime stemprato' (7), the dramatic fury of Amor Terreno's 'Orribili, terribili' (13), the powerfully engaging melody of Cristo's 'Del senso soggiogar' (21), Amor Celeste's superb celebratory 'Sù, lieti festeggiate' beautifully carried off by Andreas Scholl (27), Amor Terreno's furious 'Voi del Tartaro' (29), and Maddalena's delicate, tender closing 'Chi serva la beltà' (31).

Performance at every level is outstanding, with superb contributions from Maria Christina Kiehr as Maddalena, Bernarda Fink as Amor Terreno, Andreas Scholl as Amor Celeste and Gerd Türk as Cristo. The instrumental work is every bit as good, with the period instruments of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis bringing energy, finesse and superb baroque style to all their contributions. But the greatest assets of all are, firstly, the imaginative vision, panache, sensitivity and insight which director René Jacobs brings to the work; and, above all, the sheer quality and beauty of the music of Antonio Caldara's extraordinary baroque masterpiece. This set really does deserve a place in the collection of every baroque enthusiast and, in fact, of every lover of fine vocal music.
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