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Jaroussky: Beata Vergine (APE)

Jaroussky: Beata Vergine (APE)
Jaroussky: Beata Vergine (APE)

Performer: Philippe Jaroussky
Orchestra: Ensemble Artaserse
Composer: Giovanni Battista Bassani, Pietro Francesco Cavalli, Giovanni Paolo Colonna, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Alessandro Grandi, et al.
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: EMI Classics
Size: 379 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Salve Regina
02. Ave Regina Coelorum
03. O Quam Suavis
04. Regina Coeli Laetare
06. Inno Ave Maria Stella
07. Stabat Mater Dolorosa
08. Corda Lingua In Amore
09. O Quam Tu Pulchra Es
10. Sonata Prima (Instr.)
11. O Intemerata
12. Ave Regina Coelorum
13. Sanctissima Virgo
14. O Coeli Devota

A Showcase CD

Trying to describe Philippe Jaroussky’s voice is like trying to find fresh adjective for a vintage wine: butterscotch and vanilla, with plenty of oak and a hint of pear! Describing his technique is more straightforward: perfect pitch control, expressive dynamics from intimate to operatic, astonishing agility in singing the most lickety-split ‘passagi’ of 32nd notes, thrillingly masculine affect even in his coloratura range. What? Coloratura? Yes, Jaroussky is a male soprano, with the ability to sing, not squeak, passages well above the range of most countertenors.

This CD is a showcase of his vocal talents. The twelve motets have been well selected for variety, from the simplicity of O Quam Suavis to the aerial acrobatics of Corda Lingua in Amore, even though all twelve are Marian devotional pieces from 17th Century Italy. Vaiety is enhanced by the inclusion of several duet motets, featuring the voice of Marie-Nicole Lemieux, whose warm contralto blends well with Jaroussky’s steely blue soprano. Of the composers, only Frescobaldi could be considered well known even to specialists; the others – Rigatti, Caprioli, Mattioli – are forgotten masters of the glorious Venetian and Roman musical establishments of the early Baroque. All are the heirs of Monteverdi. While this program of motets was obviously selected to exhibit Jaroussky’s virtuosity, there isn’t a single mediocre piece to be heard. The three pieces by Alessandro Grandi in particular make me wonder whether there might not be a lot more stunning music to be discovered by these obscure Italians.

Jaroussky is supported by Ensemble Artaserse — two violins, viola da gamba, baroque guitar, theorbo, and organ/harpsichord. The instrumentalists get their chance to display their art on Giovanni Battista Bassani’s Sonata Prima. This is a gifted young ensemble, whose work will merit future attention.

What perverse art director selected the cover for this CD? A blank wall of tattered posters? There’s nothing tattered or blank about this performance, and Jaroussky, judging by his photo inside the CD case, is quite a hunk in addition to a major vocal artist.

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