by Max Emanuel Cencic


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This album of Baroque cantatas and chamber duets grew out of a 2007 performance of Stefano Landi's 1631 opera "Il Sant'Alessio" starring Philippe Jaroussky and Max Emanuel Cencic (among the eight countertenors in the cast) with William Christie conducting Les Arts Florissants. (An excellent DVD of the performance is available on Virgin Classics.) Christie was so impressed with the blend of Jaroussky and Cencic's voices that he brought them together to explore the vast and rarely performed repertoire of late 17th and early 18th century Italian duets for equal voices. The duetti da camera and chamber cantatas were a wildly, widely popular entertainment, especially during the tenures of Popes who forbade performances of opera; among the six composers represented on this disc, Bononcini wrote over 300 and Marcello 82, so the total number written and performed during this period must be staggering. Christie is absolutely correct: the blend of these two particular voices is ravishing. They have different characters and are easily distinguished from one another, but Jaroussky and Cencic both stand out among the very finest exemplars of the extraordinarily fine crop of counter tenors that has come to prominence since the turn of the century. Cencic's voice may be the purer and Jaroussky's the more colorful, but both have irreproachable technique; intelligent, nuanced musicianship; and together there is undeniable vocal chemistry. The music itself is delightful; the composers for the most part are not among the most renowned of the era, but they are masters of writing music that makes voices sound gorgeous together. This is largely pastoral music and the vocal lines are intertwined with beguiling sensuality. Each singer also performs a solo cantata. Christie, playing harpsichord or organ, leads a group of five players, made up of two violins, cello and theorbo/lute in lively, sensitive accompaniment. The sound is beautifully clean, warm, and balanced. Strongly recommended; a terrific find for fans of Baroque vocal performance of the highest order. It's easy to imagine that these performances could even make converts of listeners who have never been especially fond of countertenors.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/10/2012
Label: Erato
UPC: 0825646392605
catalogNumber: 70943
Rank: 125639


  1. Ecco che il primo albore, cantata for voice & violin
  2. Chi d'amor tra le catene, chamber duet for 2 voices & continuo
  3. Quando veggo un'usignolo, cantata for 2 voices & continuo: Aria à 2. Quando veggo un'usignolo
  4. Quanto mai saria più bello, solo cantata
  5. Pietoso nume arcier, chamber duet for 2 voices & continuo

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