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Arie D'opera

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Product Details

  • Performer: Sandrine Piau; Ann Hallenberg; Paul Agnew & Others
  • Composer: Vivaldi
  • Audio CD (Aug. 16 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nvv
  • ASIN: B0009ZDJKY
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #140,569 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Vivaldi: Arie dOpera (Vivaldi Edition)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa5b5f00c) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5856d74) out of 5 stars More Gems from Turin's Vivaldi Treasures Sept. 24 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This CD is another in the ongoing series of recordings of Vivaldi's music found in manuscripts that reside in the Biblioteca Nazionale of Turin. The project apparently hopes to record all of the treasures held therein. The music here comes from a collection of 47 arias composed by Vivaldi between 1717 and 1721 for various of his operas. According to the scholarly booklet notes, 'Some are drafts, variants or simply copies of pieces that also feature in the scores of complete operas [by Vivaldi] conserved in Turin.' The musicians involved here are the wonderful baroque group Modo Antiquo, directed by Federico Maria Sardelli, and four vocal soloists: Sandrine Piau, soprano; Ann Hallenberg, mezzo; Paul Agnew, tenor; and Guillemette Laurens, mezzo. They are all fine singers, but this is Piau's show. This wonderful soprano, known to us primarily for her work with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, sings in six of the sixteen arias and ensembles contained here. Most astonishing is the Nightingale Aria 'Usignoli che piangete' from 'Candace.' In it she imitates the song of the nightingale, complete with eerily effective rapid-fire repeated notes in alt. Another 'bird' song, also sung by Piau, is 'Quell'augellin' that pits an ornithological violin solo (played brilliantly by Modo Antiquo's unnamed concertmaster) against the soprano's fioriture.

The other soloists have their day in the sun. Paul Agnew, a familiar voice in baroque recordings, sings the graceful shepherd's plaint 'Sei tiranna se un ben fedel' from 'La Silva.' Ann Hallenberg's rich mezzo is heard to great advantage in 'Se fido revedrò' from the little that remains of Vivaldi's 'Medea e Giasone'; in it, Medea is disguised as a man, looking for her unfaithful lover, Jason, declaring her fidelity to him and the joy she will feel if she finds him. The other mezzo (actually a contralto), Guillemette Laurens is heard only in the quartet 'Anima del cor mio' from 'La Candace' and in two duets.

This is a rewarding collection of arias and ensembles, some of them familiar, most of them not. But they are all vintage Vivaldi. Sound is lifelike, with voices slightly to the fore.


Scott Morrison
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5924918) out of 5 stars Warning. May cause uncontrollable euphoria! June 5 2011
By Kelvin Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This selection of Vivaldi arias is a mouth watering collection of tracks meant to show off the quality of not only the performers but what seems to be a whole new approach by Naïve Classics to recording classical music in the high-def digital age. And for those of us who've grown up with the classical music bug, this represents the most exciting advances in getting the consumers the best products we've seen in ages. If you buy this set, you're going to buy more. You won't be able to stop yourself.

The performance:

The Naïve crew scores big. Ann Hallenberg and Guillemette Laurens perform with grace and conviction that, to my ears are the finest performances of Baroque singing. Period. The problem is now I have to go buy the full recordings of all these works. Their intonation is flawless. phrasing is ...well, flawless. They feel what they are singing and push their performances to the top, without over going over. No screeching. Not even close. Sandrine Piau is another treasure. Executes the runs like a young Joan Sutherland. The tenor Paul Agnew is good, but not in the same class as the female performers. To my ears, he doesn't have the energy the other soloists. I don't understand Italian, and for the first time when listening to Italian opera, there is so much virtuosity, I don't care! "Dar La Morte A Te Mia Vita" and "D'Improvviso Riede Il Riso" are as catchy as any pop tune on the radio.

But wait! It's not all about the vocals. Modo Antiquo accompanies brilliantly. Federico Maria Sardelli is a true Renaissance man. He conducts, plays the flute, paints & writes. So when you hear his work as represented on this CD, you are getting a aural painting with a conductor who uses a baton like a paint brush and produces a Michelangelo - I would say in the world of Baroque these are staggering masterpieces. He doesn't just run through these pieces and hope you'll go along for the ride. These interpretations are drawing you into something really intimate. He's illuminating the mind and heart of Vivaldi. Like Alessandrini, he knows a melodic hook when he hears one. It is rare to hear conductors that use actually dynamics and variations in tempo with Baroque works, but Sardelli gives us more than our moneys worth. A recording that's a privilege to listen to? Yeah. Get's my vote.

The sound:

As good as the performers are, half of why these Naïve Vivaldi recordings sound so delicious is the engineering. I don't know if the same engineers are doing all the Naïve Vivaldi edition recordings, but there is an evenness and consistency to the quality of sound, and it is worth paying for. The vocals are close and warm, but still have a pleasant reverb and presence. The performer's diction is clear, and they are miked properly so you understand every word - every syllable. The balance between soloists and orchestra is spot on. The sound stage is open, detailed, and clear as a whistle. The label is onto something. If that isn't enough, they record in 96khz/24 bit audiophile sound. What that translates to for folks with really good stereo systems is life-like, three-dimensional sound and presence - the next big advancement in recorded sound.

In the "Zefiretti Che Sussurate," I'm not sure how they did it but at one point in the aria there is a echo effect that had me giggling like a school girl. I don't know if they're using a delay and multi-track recording or just placing another singer in the distance, but I can't help thinking - it seems like someone (Naïve) is FINALLY ready to take advantages of modern recording and engineering technology and give us a product modern listeners want. Vivaldi, was after all a priest and a rock star. Now Naïve needs to help lead the charge with losing the limitation of compact disc and making high-def FLAC files available either on USB or for download on the web.

A word about the packaging.

Love, love, love it. I've seen comment to the effect that some people don't like it, or find it distracting. For the younger audience. I'm sorry. Naïve is a French company. The people that give us wine, pastry, French cooking, and Paris chic and fashion. The models got my attention, and I suppose the company is out to prove that you can judge a book by it's cover. What this shows the a level of design (something in the French do REALLY well) that carries through every detail of what you take out of the box. The look, the sound, the feel. The liner notes are detailed, readable, and as good as what we used to get back in the vinyl days. (I do wish classical labels would start giving us visually challenged folks .pdf files or a web page we could go to get print big enough to read.) So go ahead, Naïve. You keep putting the models on the covers, giving us booklets we can actually read, and the best Vivaldi recordings on the market. I'll eventually own them all. British invasion? This time, I think France gets a turn.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa659df9c) out of 5 stars A Pound of Foa. July 11 2011
By Anna Shlimovich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This marvelous recording is part of the combined effort of a few distinguished cultural institutions to bring to life previously unpublished and unperformed works of the great baroque Venetian composer, Antonio Vivaldi. Looking at the history of this recording, once realises that Vivaldi's musical genius has always been highly esteemed, although mostly by an elite of connoisseurs of music, which included Johann Sebastian Bach. Alas, Sturm und Drang of clamorous 19th century has obscured the delicacy of the baroque; Wagner's cries and Mascagni's whispers completely silenced all the exquisite refinement of zeffiretti e sussurratti, altogether with Handel's augelletti che cantate, who, just as Vivaldi with Four Seasons, got by through decades riding Messiah.

While Handel fared better in his operas revival for whatever whims of fate - perhaps chiefly because he was a court composer of the monarchy that still survives, while Vivaldi's La Serenissima republic fell victim to French Usurper - the lascivious and extremely prolific Maestro di'concerti dell'Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage for girls (Il Preto Rosso appears to be wise enough to channel his lecherous energy elsewhere) produced splendid music of all genres - including dozens of operas. We are so very lucky that we can hear the recording so many these days - all thanks to the aforementioned efforts by The National University Library of Turin, Instituto per I Beni Musicali in Piemonte and the recording firm Naïve brought to us those previously unheard works of the Maestro.

It is even more fascinating to learn that The National Library of Turin has not always been so enthusiastic about Vivaldi. While his manuscripts were changing hands from 1745, being sold by Fransceso Vivaldi, the composer's brother, to a Venetian nobleman Il Conte Jacopo Soranzo, who in turn passed them to Il Conte Giacomo Durazzo (I just can't fail to note that Villa Durazzo in Santa Margherita Ligure occupies one of the most beautiful positions of the whole Ligurian coast), and his descendant, Marcello Durazzo, left the manuscripts to Colegio Salesiano San Carlo.

And it is then, in 1926, the rector of this college decided to sell the volumes on the market. He offered it to The National Library of Turin, but then the City of Turin refused to buy it. Who agreed to buy it then, providing funds to this current pride and glory of the library? It turned out to be a Jewish banker and stockbroker, Roberto Foa. Thus the Vivaldi collection of manuscripts acquired by that transaction, bears Foa's name, gracing the title of this recording. On a side note, it seems that being a Jewish stockbroker is conducive to appreciation of fine music - Marcel Proust's grandfather had the same profession, and Proust is a rare writer who seem to have a better musical taste than many of his literary colleagues.

The paradox of life is that Olga Rudge, a mistress and life-long partner of Ezra Pound, made the first catalogue of Foa collection, and that Ezra Pound himself, a staunch anti-Semite, did a great deal to promote Vivaldi's music. This whole story provides plenty of material for the contemplation on the human nature; Ezra Pound chose to live in Venice, perhaps the most mercantile of all Italian cities, with immense presence and power of Judaic followers forever immortalized by a well-known English writer. Skylocks had been supporting arts in Venice through various venues, including Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi, still fully functioning and providing funding research and preservation of music. It is amazing to observe how people on polar sides of life, as Ezra Pound and Venetian/Italian Jewish supporters of music pursued the same artistic goal - including preservation and performance of Vivaldi's oevre.

Listening to this CD, and to some other works by Vivaldi, including CDs issued by the aforementioned effort, one only wonders why there is no Vivaldi Festival, in the same fashion as there is Handel in Halle or Bach in Leipzig, or Wagner in Bayreuth; this composer certainly deserves it as much as Verdi, at least, and how nice it would be to have such a festival in Venice or in Veneto in general; it is interesting that Olga Rudge had founded such a festival, but it had not survived.

So far all we have are these fabulous recordings and one DVD with Marilyn Horne in Orlando Furioso production which by now almost 40 years old. And it contributes to frustration over why there is a numberless foray of Verdi and Puccini every year in Verona and elsewhere, with innumerable sound and video recording of the same beaten-up works, but to find a live production of Vivaldi is a much bigger ordeal.

In all fairness, today's performances of Vivaldi's work are gaining momentum; his opera La Griselda will be part of Sante Fe Opera festival this year, and strangely enough, he is most often performed in France, during Beaune Baroque Music Festival and elsewhere in France. Hopefully, he will find a new home in France - maybe it is coincidental that Jean-Christoph Spinosi is so after him, while Italians seem to prefer Monteverdi over any other baroque composer.

Let it be in France - how enchanting it would be to sit in the theater and listen to ANY opera that is represented on this disk, especially if performed by such extraordinary singers as Sandrine Piau - her rendition of Usignoli che piangete is breath-taking; her arias here are my definite favorites. It is curious however, that not all arias here can be attributed to an opera by Vivaldi - this Foa 28 collection represents Vivaldi's personal choice of opera arias, but some, as "Zeffiretti che sussurrate", have not been identified as belonging to any particular opera.

Definitely Ann Hallenberg also delights senses with her beautiful vocal agility, clarity of tone and overall virtuosity. Paul Agnew sounds good, too, but somehow one gets an impression that Vivaldi's music is best fit for female voices - after all, he wrote for all-female school in Venice. Yet if these tenor arias were written for a famous tenor (Antonio Barbieri), then Paul Agnew's voice fails to impress. Female voices here sound much more voracious and exciting.

The music direction of Federico Maria Sardelli was also very good; I initially approached this disk with caution, since his Orlando Furioso recording was to me a disaster, compared to Claudio Scimone and even Jean-Christophe Spinosi, who really is spinning it too much. Yet here the tempi and accents sounded well, although it is easier to perform a variety recording than to deliver a full opera.

Overall, this recording is a delight to hear, it will provide a pound of pleasure any time one listens to it. It is interesting to compare it with an early CD, by Rinaldo Alessandrini and Jean-Christophe Spinosi - it features more singers, thus making it more varied - available here on Amazon as "Vivaldi Edition: Operas".

The music sounds quite the same, though - Stravinsky once said that Vivaldi wrote the same one opera 400 times; sometimes this strikes as true, but it is not almost the same with many other composers. In any case, this CD is from the best, most learned, abundant and educated talent in music writing period of history ever, i.e. baroque, and provides for endless listening pleasure.

Highly recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa663ce7c) out of 5 stars This CD is NOT a Batch of Excerpts ... Jan. 17 2012
By Gio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
... from the ongoing "Vivaldi Edition" of opera recordings produced by Naïve. It stands alone as a recital of 16 of the 47 arias that Vivaldi himself assembled, probably in 1721-22 in preparation for travel to the North in search of opportunity. Some of these arias are indeed to be found in complete operas - in La Candace, Tito Manlio, La Verità in Cimento, etc. -- but some of them have no other recognized source except the manuscripts of "Volume 28" of the Foà collection in the national library of Turin. One can speculate that Vivaldi prepared this compendium as a"sample kit" of his music, since the arias are remarkably diverse both in affect and in musical effects. Or perhaps he wanted such material at hand for creating a "pastiche" opera on short notice. Whatever their purpose, these arias were carefully copied out, annotated, and sorted into subgroups. They represent the full spectrum of vocal registers, keys and tempi, styles of orchestration, and psychological mood found in Vivaldi's vast oeuvre of operas and cantata-like works: laments and exaltations, sobs of remorse and shrieks of rage, accusations and confessions; tempests, bird songs, echos, clarion calls to arms; brilliant obbligato writing for violins, oboes, flutes, and sopranino recorder played by Modo Antiquo conductor Federico Maria Sardelli himself. Played inconceivably well, I humbly add, more nimbly than I could hope to play it on my best day.

The singers are the phenomenal Sandrine Piau, soprano; the mellifluous Ann Hallenberg, mezzosoprano; and the artful Paul Agnew, tenor. Mezzo Guillemette Laurens joins the ensemble on sveral duets in a gorgeous quartet from "La Candace". Piau is almost too fine to describe; her coloratura is as sweet and as agile as any little bird or flauto dolce. Hallenberg's glory is her marvelous timbres. Paul Agnew is much better known as a singer of French Baroque, for which his voice is perfectly suited. It's not the melt-in-your-ear gondolier tenor more suited for Italian opera, but Agnew's musicianship is so well-founded that he carries his weight even in the company of Piau and Hallenberg. In Foà 28, by the way, there are only four arias specifically for tenor and just one for basso; sopranos and altos, both male and female, dominated the baroque opera stage. It's quite well documented that some of these 'soprano' arias, sung so virtuosically by Sandrine Piau, were composed to suit the talents of identified castrati, and on the basis of weak inference and wishful thinking, some "critics" have asserted that the voices Vivaldi heard were bigger and plummier than what we today hear from countertenors like Philippe Jaroussky or even from a light/clear soprano like Piau. I need only one piece of evidence to dismiss that assertion: this performance. Listen to Sandrine Piau; can you honestly imagine that any other vocal technique would express this music more effectively?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5856bf4) out of 5 stars Too much have already been written about this fantastic album... May 8 2012
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
My two cents, therefore, will be brief.

This album contains an exemplary array of Vivaldi's operatic arias, and as we are being informed by Bruno, hand-picked by the composer himself as a travelling sample!

Furthermore, the performance in this album here is another exemplary array of baroque music playing and singing.

Sardelli's conducting is top-notch, and the instrumental and vocal ensembles are unbelievably beautifully performed. If you wish to know what is Vivaldi's music like, this disc offers an excellent choice.

I would not emphasize how much better the arias in this album are sung and performed than other current BIG names and feigned baroque experts. Take the Zeffiretti che sussurrate RV 749 for an example.

Nor could I emphasize that the mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg is by all measures one of the very finest baroque mezzos singing today. Together with a handful of ultra-competents like Mary Ellen Nesi, she out-sings other big names signed up by big labels like Decca, Virgin, et al.

The soprano Sandrine Piau is another phenomenal singer that the classical musical world beyond Europe did not learn to appreciate with any sufficient earnestness.

Paul Agnew is a fine Handellian tenor, but one misses Alexander Basil Young.