Thursday, 28 October 2010

Countertenors - Mehta & Jaroussky

Two forthcoming releases by countertenors: Bejun Mehta sings Haendel and Philippe Jaroussky sings Caldara

Georg Friederich Haendel:-
Ombra Cara - Opera arias
Bejun Mehta - countertenor
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
cond: René Jacobs
1 x CD + Bonus DVD (The Making of) 15'25"
Release Date: 8th November 2010

Caldara in Vienna
Forgotten castrato arias by Antonio Caldara (1670-1736)
Philippe Jaroussky - countertenor
Concerto Koeln
dir: Emmanuelle Haim
1 x CD Release Date: 1st November 2010

Philippe Jaroussky continues his rediscovery of long-forgotten arias for high male voice with this collection of music by Antonio Caldara, a contemporary of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi, who was the first composer to set many librettos by the great Metastasio and Zeno.

“When you are discovering music that has not been recorded before, it’s like your own treasure,” Philippe Jaroussky told Early Music Today, when discussing his last Virgin Classics recital, La dolce fiamma, a programme of arias by Johann Christian Bach.

With this new album, he revives a number of forgotten works by the Venetian-born Antonio Caldara, who made his career in Mantua, Barcelona, Rome and, finally, Vienna. All the arias – several recorded for the very first time – come from operas with librettos by Metastasio (1698 –1782), whose noble texts defined the genre of opera seria. Both Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, first performed in 1791, and Caldara’s opera of the same name, first performed nearly 60 years previously, were settings of Metastasio, while the writer’s text for Caldara’s Demofoonte, first performed in 1733, went on to inspire more than 70 stage works, including operas by Gluck, Paisiello, Piccinni, Graun and Cherubini.

As usual, Jaroussky has done his own musicological research for this album. “I’m always very curious and love to go to libraries. When you are in direct contact with manuscripts, it’s like you are touching history; it’s important for me to do the research myself, to be in direct contact with the material.”

La dolce fiamma, also both a musicological and vocal tour de force, prompted The Guardian to affirm that: “You can't help but be seduced by the passion and range of Jaroussky's singing, which embraces everything from perfect coloratura to rapt introversion”, while in the countertenor’s native France – where in 2010 he won his third award in the high-profile annual Victoires de la Musique – Diapason asked: “Can Philippe Jaroussky’s talent be praised any further? … His indomitable technique enables him to tackle the wildest vocalises, but also, thanks to his cultivated legato, to caress sinuous melodic curves. His even, wide-ranging voice charms from the first moment. There’s a touch of mystery, great gentleness, subtlety and sweetness – and the magic of singing does the rest.”

In his first recital for Harmonia Mundi, Bejun Mehta, the American countertenor, has chosen highlights from the repertoire of the famous castrato Senesino, accompanied by René Jacobs and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. Mehta (b.1968) is a protegé of René Jacobs and has been sponsored by Marilyn Horne. He made his opera debut as a countertenor, having been inspired by David Daniels, as Armindo in a New York City Opera production of Partenope. Stage rôles have included Tolomeo in Giulio Cesare, Tamerlano, Ottone in Agrippina and Endimione in Le Calisto.

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