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Cantatas (secular) - Released November 2, 2018 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 étoiles de Classica
Given that he wrote about 115 operas (of which at least 70 have survived to this day), 800 cantatas of all kinds, shedloads of symphonies and serenades, and dozens of the most varied kinds of liturgical works, Alessandro Scarlatti remains under-played today. The album concentrates on a few of these innumerable cantatas which are almost all preserved in their original manuscript form and quite a few of which belong to the Arcadian genre. This is to say that they deal with the bucolic mythology of nymphs and shepherds from Arcadia (in the Peloponnese in Greece) developed during the Renaissance. Love, betrayal and reunions are all displayed here, some in solo cantatas – soprano or baritone – and other cantatas in dialogue for two voices. Some have nothing but a continuo for an accompaniment, others have two violins with continuo. Everything seems to indicate that at the time of writing these pieces were meant to entertain nobles in their palaces, especially during the many periods of the year when the Church forbade public performances. Without a doubt these pieces were played once or twice and then forgotten... And here they are, rescued from oblivion by the soprano Deborah Cachet and the baritone Nicolas Achten, who, as well as singing, conducts his ensemble Scherzi Musicali and plays the theorbo, the triple harp and the organ. © SM/Qobuz

Classical - Released February 24, 2016 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica

Classical - Released November 1, 2019 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Giovanni Battista Colonna (1637-95) spent most of his career in Bologna as maestro di cappella of the basilica of San Petronio. Since he had at his disposal this imposing building with its two choir organs, well known to lovers of the instrument, and its very generous acoustics, Colonna wrote a large number of sacred compositions for imposing vocal and instrumental forces. But, in a more intimate vein, he also devoted two collections to the repertory of ‘small motets’. The pieces recorded here come from the 1681 set of Motetti a due e tre voci (1681). They display a wide variety of formulas, combining traditional elements and innovative aspects that were to be further developed in the following generations. These gems are highly representative of the style of small motets that heralds the stile concertante. They are characterised by various combinations of voices (from solo recitative to a mixture of vocal duets or trios in different scorings) and a broad range of formal structures bound up with the very nature of the texts. © Ricercar

Classical - Released June 19, 2013 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
A good deal of ink is spilled in the booklet to this Alpha release on the question of what instruments were popular in England during Henry Purcell's lifetime at the end of the 17th century. But none of it deals with the music heard on the album, or the conditions in which it was played (some of the songs were part of dramatic works, which would have made the mixed chamber groupings here unlikely), or who might have used these instruments in performances of this kind. Thus the performance falls into the class of those that use written music merely as a stimulus to further creativity. As such, it's a bit hard to evaluate. The program is the strongest point: the arrangements (for that is really what they are) by the Belgian group Scherzi Musicali and its leader, Nicolas Achten, shed light on the various layers of 17th century music, from several national origins, that came together to generate Purcell's unique style. Consider the attractive performance of O solitude! (track 3), which bends a long Continental ground bass tradition to a distinctively British mood of melancholy (even if the original poem was French). It's very affectingly done here, and it sounds as though it could have come out of a Monteverdi opera. Generally the singing of tenor Reinoud van Mechelen succeeds in avoiding the revelation of its non-English origins, but a plummy tone impedes text intelligibility. Your mileage may vary substantially with this release, but it's hardly a "historical performance." © TiVo

Secular Vocal Music - Released December 1, 2017 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason découverte

Classical - Released September 25, 2008 | Ricercar

Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk
Florentine composers Jacopo Peri and Giulio Caccini were fierce rivals. History may never confirm with certainty which composer was the first to complete a setting of Ottavio Rinuccini's libretto for Euridice, but we do know that Peri's Euridice was the first performed in October 1600 at the wedding celebration of Henry IV of France and Marie de' Medici, and Caccini's Euridice was the first published, in December of the same year. Peri's opera has been occasionally performed and recorded, perhaps because of his historical significance as the composer of the first opera, Dafne, which appeared in 1598, but this is the first, long overdue recording of Caccini's. This remarkable performance by Scherzi Musicali, led by Nicholas Achten, reveals Caccini's opera as a work with the substance and depth to become standard for ensembles specializing in early Baroque repertoire. His vocal writing is fluid, with expressive recitatives and lovely, shapely ensembles. Like Monteverdi, Caccini shows a profound psychological understanding of the characters, expressed in writing that captures the subtly shifting emotions of the text. The vocal and instrumental performances are beyond reproach. Director Achten also plays theorbo and sings the role of Orfeo. All of the soloists have voices of exceptional purity and freshness. Based on photos in the booklet, most of them look like they are barely out of their teens, but there's nothing juvenile about their performances; they sing with flawless technique, a solid grasp of appropriate performance practice, and probing insight. With the equally accomplished instrumental ensemble, they interact with the sensitivity and intimacy of a string quartet, with the result sounding like chamber music. Ricercar's sound is clean and lively. Caccini's Euridice is a revelation, and this superb recording should be of interest to any fans of early opera and of the early Baroque in general. © TiVo

Classical - Released January 21, 2010 | Ricercar

Belgium's Ricercar label has issued top-notch performances of a great deal of 17th century music that without its efforts would have remained obscure. The good news continues with this album of music by Giovanni Felice Sances, an Italian trained in Venice who went on to serve the Habsburg monarchy in Vienna. His motets, for a solo voice up to a quartet plus continuo, certainly take the music of Monteverdi as a point of departure, but Sances' motets have a sober quality that annotator and group leader Nicholas Achten attributes to the Catholicism of the Habsburgs and the lingering influence of the purifying Council of Trent. The motets are fairly simple, oriented toward text intelligibility, and opportunities for vocal display are few in comparison with Monteverdi. Yet Achten somewhat overstates this aspect of the music, and the program as a whole provides a nice example of the ways composers adapted the Monteverdi style to the requirements of the work situations in which they found themselves around Europe. Sances is generally direct, but when he comes to a text with strongly romantic-sexual imagery, such as Dulcis amor Iesu (Jesus, my sweet love, sweet treasure, my beloved, I ask you to pierce me with your arrows, track 3), he responds in kind with an expanded melodic palette. The highlight is Sances' Stabat Mater (track 8), usually sung by a countertenor but here rendered by Achten himself, a baritone. It's a magnificent setting, unfolding with a profound mixture of tragedy and inner logic over 10 1/5 minutes of monodic style. The performances by Achten's group Scherzi Musicali are superb. The large continuo group, including multiple strummed strings and sometimes both harpsichord and organ, are applied not only to the vocal pieces but also to various instrumental toccatas and preludes by other composers, giving them the effect of natural interludes in the program rather than intrusions from a whole different genre. Strongly recommended for lovers of the early Baroque. All texts are given in German, French, and English, as well as the original Latin. © TiVo

Classical - Released January 24, 2012 | Alpha


Opera Extracts - Released November 21, 2014 | deutsche harmonia mundi

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