Hott off the presses: The 5 Countertenors
Jommelli, Tito Manlio: Spezza lo stral piagato (Sabadus)
Porpora, Ifigenia in Aulide: O di spietate numi…/ Tu, spietato non farai… (Sabata)
Galuppi, Penelope: A questa bianca mano (Cencic)
Handel, Serse: Crude furie degl’orridi abissi (Mynenko)
Myslivecek, Farnace: Ti parli in seno amore (Yi)
JC Bach, Temistocle: Ch’io parta? (Mynenko)
Gluck, Demetrio: Non si frenare il pianto (Sabadus)
Bertoni, Tancredi: Addio a miei sospiri (Cencic)
Handel, Aggripina: Otton, Otton…/ Voi che udite il mio lamento (Sabata)
Hasse, Piramo e Tisbe: Ah, no e ver, ben mio (Yi)
I gather this CD was released to signal to the public at large the fact that we live in the Golden age of the Countertenor and, by extension, of the Baroque opera. Both the material and the singing contained therein make a compelling case. Countertenors and (the understanding of) Baroque opera have come a long way to show that it was only due to the ficklness of fashion stuff like this was ever pushed aside.
At a first glance. I skipped to Crude furie because how can you not? But then what did my eyes see? Addio a miei sospiri from… Tancredi?! Wait, wasn’t that sometimes called something else, by another composer and from another opera? Yes, it was! Plumed hats off to Bertoni, since the booklet tells us it was he who actually wrote it and then it got randomly inserted in the other much better known opera. Gotta love interchangeable arias.
Sabadus. What we’re offered here in both arias is a very beautiful “chamois” voice, though it seems to completely reside above the staff – beautiful, (elegantly) meaty, accomplished. The best thing about contemporary countertenors is they have body to their voice even when it’s soft and high. So if Sabadus were a dish he’d be pigeon.
Sabata. You know, the more I hear from Porpora the more I keep wondering why it took all this time for his stuff to resurface. It’s melodic, it’s dramatic, it’s got pizzazz. Much better than Caldara and quite possibly as good as Vivaldi. Sabata does a good job with both the dramatic recit and the energetic aria, though I’m not the biggest fan of his tone (he gets a bit clucky on occasion – I guess as a dish he’s turkey). He’s equally as on in Handel, great voice acting, many moods and colours especially in the recit.
Cencic. Galuppi isn’t my man, the aria was a bit of a bore (on second listen: it’s not without merit, some pretty lyricism there, though perhaps overstaying its welcome). That being said, I just changed the audio sample for my Vo disperato a morte (Hasse) post to Cencic’s version because he does such a sterling job with it. He’s anguished there, too, but in a way I’m more down with and gets creative with it. I love Addio a miei sospiri no matter who’s singing it so I don’t know if I can be very objective. Let’s just say cheerfulness is very well served, enough for me to have hit repeat 5-6 times before moving on. I’d insert it in every other opera, perhaps in Strauss as well (imagine it at the end of Salome, sung by Jochanaan’s head!). Dish: chicken, liked by all.
Mynenko. I’m told Mynenko is a lesser spotted countertenor (lives in a yurt in Siberia and hunts his own deer for dinner with bow and arrow 😉 ) but it’s a shame as he does a hell of a job with that beast Crude furie (or maybe that’s why!). Unlike Addio a miei sospiri I think this one can be easily failed. I wasn’t 100% behind his last ornament but he immediately rebalanced himself with the
low note growl right after (dish: pheasant).
But but but
how good is that JC Bach aria?! Just the kind of trumpet-happy kitchen sink anguish I like done with a lot of venom. JC’s dad would’ve been horrified… If Adriano in Siria has only a couple of arias on that level we’re in business next month. More of that replay-button breaker stuff and come to London, please! Wigmore Hall awaits.
I was initially wondering why the 6th countertenor isn’t on it but I have to say Mynenko is being buttah with a similar ethos. I’m fickle, I know. Which is why the 6th countertenor should‘ve been on it 😉 But for now you can call me a Mynenko convert.
Yi. Poor, Yi, having to follow that. He’s the soulful, flower-gathering kind of countertenor, perhaps the less-bodied one. It’s a cute tone (a quail).
Don’t be fooled by the lounge act cover, this is very entertaining – accomplished and polished.