Loveby Simone Kermes
After a flirtation with the 19th century, soprano Simone Kermes is back on familiar Baroque ground, with a new collection that is once again organized around a theme rather than a place or time or technique. Indeed, Kermes is resolutely not after an ideal of historical performance; she draws together material from four different national traditions (English, French, Spanish, and Italian), and she has one of the players in her small La Magnifica Comunità orchestra rearrange pieces at will to fit the sequence of events in the program. Kermes has the chops to carry off this kind of freedom. Her voice is utterly distinctive and may be a matter of taste, but there are some wonderful pieces here, each of them introduced in the booklet by a trio of adjectives ("Clandestine love -- bashfulness -- inexperience," for Michel Lambert's "Sombres déserts," track six). There is a striking range of moods and of vocal qualities to go with them. The program ends with and in some ways builds to Purcell's "When I am laid in earth," which receives a performance of great gravity, but equally interesting if not more so are the obscure pieces that Kermes shapes into a tour of the dangerous emotion. Sample "Che si può fare? ("Yearning -- compassion -- despair," track five) by Barbara Strozzi, who is still more talked about than performed; it's a deliciously messy and modern piece. This is a very strong recital, as well executed as it is original.
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