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Full Operas - Released October 19, 2004 | naïve

Diving into Vivaldi's Orlando furioso with Jean-Christophe Spinosi, Matheus Ensemble, and a shockingly good cast is enough to make even the most jaded listener smile. It is fresh, unrelentingly impressive, and entertaining to a fault. The opera is over-plotted: the first paragraph of the synopsis is enough to confuse anyone not taking notes. And listening to the entire thing would amount to more flowery, athletic vocalism than most can stand in one sitting. But those with the remotest interest in Vivaldi opera, or opera at all, will be hard pressed not to marvel at the quality of what's recorded here. Spinosi is a brilliant Vivaldian who pulls sweet-toned lyricism and down-and-dirty sawing from his Matheus Ensemble, making the most of the composer's rich orchestration. And the cast pulls one rabbit after another out of its collective hat, tackling Vivaldi's consummately difficult arias with élan. Clearly, the folks at Naïve (along with their subsidiaries Opus 111 and Astrée) have found a rich vein to mine in Vivaldi's operas; they are going to be a tough act to follow.
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Full Operas - Released January 5, 2009 | naïve

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 10 de Classica-Répertoire - Prise de Son d'Exception
Naïve has set itself the daunting task of recording all the works of the Antonio Vivaldi from the collection at the Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria in Turin, about 450 works in all. The composer wrote nearly 50 operas, of which 15 are in this collection, and Naïve is doing a splendid job of presenting them to modern audiences with the utmost care, professionalism, and passion. This recording of La fida ninfa (1732), featuring some of the most expert performers of Baroque opera, won a prestigious Diapason d'Or award. Jean-Christophe Spinosi leads the French ensemble Matheus in a performance of enormously supple energy and musical finesse. Both elements are essential for this repertoire; the music demands the highest level of show-stopping virtuosity, both from the singers and the instrumentalists, but without being driven of a sure sense of the drama, it could come off merely as pyrotechnic note-spinning. Spinosi and his performers are fully successful in exposing the opera's dramatic contours, and in mining the emotional depth of the characters. The soloists, without exception, demonstrate complete mastery of Baroque performance practice, and they bring their characters to life with distinctive individuality without sacrificing wonderfully pure tone. Soprano Sandrine Piau is especially breathtaking in the precision and agility of her stratospheric coloratura. The other principals, soprano Verónica Cangemi, contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, bass Lorenzo Regazzo, countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, and tenor Topi Lehtipuu are no less effective. La fida ninfa departs from the conventions of late Baroque operas in enough particulars to make especially intriguing; Vivaldi includes a number of small ensembles, often significantly alters the da capo sections of the arias, and is not afraid of making startling metric shifts for dramatic effect. Naïve's sound is crystal clear, with excellent presence and balance.
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Concertos for wind instruments - Released May 10, 2010 | naïve

Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or
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Full Operas - Released November 8, 2010 | naïve

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Full Operas - Released August 29, 2006 | naïve

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Full Operas - Released October 1, 2002 | naïve

Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or
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Full Operas - Released August 26, 2013 | naïve

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
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Full Operas - Released March 22, 2010 | naïve

Booklet
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Full Operas - Released September 18, 2007 | naïve

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Full Operas - Released February 19, 2002 | naïve

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Opera Extracts - Released February 21, 2006 | naïve

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Full Operas - Released April 27, 2004 | naïve

Recordings of Vivaldi operas are extremely scarce, and whether or not that will -- or should -- ever change is an open question. But excellent performances like this one make a good case for the music deserving wider appreciation, and offer a different perspective on a composer who, despite having been one of the greatest operatic composers of his day, is now known almost exclusively for his cheerful instrumental concertos. Alessandro de Marchi leads the Academia Montis Regalis and a thoroughly enjoyable cast in an impressive recording; the ensemble playing is crisp and incisive, and the singers make short work of some imposingly florid arias. Occasional passages for solo violin, some in duet with voices, are an instantly familiar touch (perhaps Vivaldi's heart was with the violin after all?). The music itself is ebullient and entertaining enough to make following the ultra-complex plot a non-issue, but after an act or two the sameness of tempo and pacing, always allegro, always busy, begins to wear thin. The fact that Vivaldi was a less imaginative composer of recitative than many of his Italian predecessors doesn't help matters. Moments of sustained lyricism, like the third act's "Vedi spietato nelle mie pupille," are all too infrequent, and extremely welcome when they happen. So, Orlando finto pazzo may or may not stick around in the repertory, but if you're at all curious to hear an example of Vivaldi's operatic writing, you won't get many better chances than this.
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Full Operas - Released October 4, 2010 | naïve

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
With its 2010 album Arie per tenore, Naïve offers the 47th installment in its gargantuan Vivaldi Project, Tesori del Piemonte. Like most of the vocal recitals in the series, it is heavily weighted with virtuosic arias. The tenor voice was often sidelined in early 18th century Italian opera in favor of the flasher and more agile castrati, but Vivaldi championed some of the most talented Venetian tenors of his time and created roles for them that were hardly less demanding than what he wrote for castrati and women's voices. Finnish tenor Topi Lehtipuu has a substantial voice, virile and heroic, with full, colorful tone. He's also a fine actor, and the variety of roles represented here are wonderfully differentiated. His is not naturally a coloratura voice, so the more virtuosic music with very fast passagework doesn't always fall as easily for him as for some of the women and countertenors featured in this series. His negotiation of the composer's extreme requirements does not always sound effortless, so the most demanding pieces don't create quite the sense of astonishment of singers who seem to be tossing the music off easily and spontaneously. The skill and finesse with which he does pull it off, though, is mightily impressive, and there are probably few tenors around with a voice the size of his who could manage these arias as effectively as he does. Especially engaging are the more lyrical arias like the lovely, delicately scored "Cessa tiranno amor" from L'Incoronazione di Dario. "Alle minacce di fiera belva" from Farnace, which prominently features two natural horns, is, quite literally, a blast, comically bombastic and wildly exhilarating. Diego Fasolis elicits performances with a marvelously vibrant energy and inventiveness from the orchestra I Barocchisti and Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera. Naïve's sound is characteristically clean, warm, and natural, with an excellent sense of presence.
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Opera Extracts - Released June 14, 2005 | naïve

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Classical - Released May 31, 2010 | naïve

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Classical - Released June 1, 2009 | naïve

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Classical - Released October 6, 2008 | naïve

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Classical - Released September 15, 2008 | naïve

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Classical - Released September 3, 2007 | naïve

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Classical - Released September 1, 2005 | naïve