Countertenor Andreas Scholl's new CD is devoted to little-known, late-17th- and early-18th-century cantatas whose subject matter is Arcadia, a real region in Greece, but more frequently evoked as an idyllic place filled with innocent, simple shepherds and shepherdesses. Scholl employs a more operatic tone and attitude than we're accustomed to from countertenors. Not only does he use vibrato and "lean" on the voice, but he dips down, as in the final moments of a cantata by Marcello, into a deep, dark baritone range. The effect is dramatic and apt. Elsewhere his tone is just gorgeous and always expressive, he pays attention to the text of these works and captures the theatrical moment in each. The last movement of a work by Francesco Gasparini is excitingly acrobatic. The Accademia Byzantina is a remarkable "backup" group and they get to play some purely orchestral works as well. This disc is a knockout; enjoy it.–Robert Levine
From Dynamic comes the riveting opera performance of Olivo e Pasquale, a fan favorite that has delighted audiences for years. Known also as Melodramma giocoso, or romantic comedy opera about the title character brothers and their conflicting lives with those around them, this is the 1827 Neapolitan version with slight revisions and recorded for the first time at the 2016 Donizetti Festival of Bergamo.
Some musicologists simply continue to regard Carlo Farina as music history’s first composer of programme music because of the Capriccio stravagante, his most famous work. However, the great expressive variety and the sumptuous, finely constructed textures of other works enlarge our picture of this composer, who was much more multifaceted than the (certainly very remarkable) Capriccio stravagante might lead us to believe.
Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi (15 May 1567 (baptized) – 29 November 1643) was an Italian composer, gambist, singer and Roman Catholic priest.
Monteverdi's work, often regarded as revolutionary, marked the transition from the Renaissance style of music to that of the Baroque period. He developed two individual styles of composition – the heritage of Renaissance polyphony and the new basso continuo technique of the Baroque. Monteverdi wrote one of the earliest operas, L'Orfeo, an innovative work that is the earliest surviving opera that is still regularly performed. He was recognized as an innovative composer and enjoyed considerable fame in his lifetime.