- Composer: Alessandro Stradella
- Audio CD (Oct. 20 2017)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Alpha
- ASIN: B074JS3JX9
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #100,930 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Lagrima e Sospiri
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The life of Stradella, murdered on a Genoese piazza at the age of forty-two on the orders of a jealous rival in love, has achieved mythical status and inspired several novels and operas featuring Stradella the adventurer, the rebel and above all Stradella the Don Juan, whose amorous escapades, from abducting a novice from a convent in Florence to a flight across Italy with the high-born fiancee of a senator, were never a hindrance to his flourishing musical career. It is easy to imagine that Stradella’s hectic life provided the inspiration for the captivating female figures who abound in his output, exalted by technically redoubtable vocal writing, as exuberant and virtuosic as it can sometimes be sober and ethereal, and supported by remarkably skilled recitatives, a genuine verbal theatre that offers the singer infinite scope for expression. From the demonic Salome to Ariadne, the model wife turned into a Fury by despair; from Pelagia, the repentant sinner who ends her days living in a cave disguised as a man, to Susanna, the very image of innocence and purity, this programme presents a series of portraits of women whom Chantal Santon embodies in their turn with all her artistry, her intimate knowledge of this repertory and her sense of theatre.
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The arias are sung by soprano Chantal Santon Jeffery, accompanied by the ten instruments of the Galilei Consort directed by Benjamin Chénier. It must be said right away that the singer’s performance is superb; she has a really lovely soprano voice, rich in texture, flexible, very secure on the high notes – and, equally important, she is extremely expressive and gives us a real insight into the emotional depths of Stradella’s music. The playing of Chénier’s band, graceful, stylish and full of life, makes them a worthy partner for Jeffery’s fine singing.
The programme mainly concerns the unhappy aspects of love, as its title indicates – common themes in Stradella’s persistent preoccupation with the sufferings of various saints or forlorn lovers. Yet the music offered here is nicely varied, typically the quicker and more lively music coming with the instrumental overtures, and the more miserable works in the form of tragic arias showing at its best the composer’s exceptional facility for emotional drama.
Opening the programme are an overture and three vocal pieces from the opera ‘Moro per amore’, the last of which (track 4) is a tragic love aria, very expressive both in music and in rendition. For additional subtlety, Salome’s aria from ‘San Giovanni Battista’ (6) is also in tragic mode, and yet in truth its function in the story is mesmerisingly manipulative. Antioco’s aria ‘Lasso, che feci’, from the opera ‘La Forza dell’amor paterno’ (11), is another genuinely tragic piece with especially lovely, affecting melodic lines punctuated by contrasting quicker passages. Susanna’s extended lament (16) makes a fine conclusion to the programme, again most beautifully sung and played here.
Booklet notes are extremely useful in explaining the context of each piece, although I could have done with a bit more detail about the music itself. Texts and translations are included. This is the first time I’ve come across Chantal Santon Jeffery; I’m extremely impressed and I hope we’ll hear more from her, especially in programmes as enterprising as this one and with equally fine instrumental partnership.