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“Young French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky… negotiates even the most taxing display pieces with effortless agility. Yet he is more than a mere showman: he shapes the music with subtle nuances and expressive gestures and demonstrates a mature musical sensitivity throughout. There's some bucolic playing, too, from Ensemble Artaserse, captured with resonant detail on this recording.”
“The countertenor Philippe Jaroussky soars as effortlessly as a bird, with no sense of strain: perhaps – for we can never know for certain – this is how the great castrati of the 18th century sounded. He was certainly convincing in the soprano role of Nero in the Euroarts DVD of Handel's Agrippina. Little is known about the background to these cantatas. Each is in the familiar form of two dacapo arias, separated and sometimes preceded by a recitative. The themes are equally familiar, generally concerned with the inconstancy or inaccessibility of the beloved, with reference to the storms, bright dawns and shipwrecks of opera seria. Alla caccia dell'alme describes 'barbarous Cloris' hunting souls and hearts, with predictable consequences for the victim. And there is a delightful surprise: no horn depicting the chase, of course: instead, here and elsewhere, we have the jolly bassoon of Jérémie Papasergio on the bass line. In fact the composition of the continuo group varies within each cantata and even during a movement: the 'A' section of the first aria in Pianti, sospiri e dimandar mercede features bassoon and lute, the 'B' section cello and harpsichord. This is justified by the quality of the playing but to switch from harpsichord to organ in the same piece seems to me fussy. Philippe Jaroussky is sweet-toned and, as well as singing the divisions with wonderful control, he shows care for the meaning of the words. The aria from Tito Manlio, which really was written for contralto, finds him duetting with the cello obbligato of Emilia Gliozzi – superb!”
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