Rising star countertenor Andrew Radley with harpsichord virtuoso Julian Perkins and his period instrument ensemble Sounds Baroque, mirror the conversazione, or musical gatherings, of 17th and 18th century Italy with a programme of dramatic cantatas and magical instrumental works.
In the late 17th century, all roads really did lead to Rome for the aspiring musician. There, wealthy aristocrats-turned-priests and Catholic nobility from across Europe vied for cultural status through artistic patronage. In particular, the young Pietro Ottoboni (1667–1740) reigned supreme among patrons of music, supporting among others Caldara and Albinoni, Alessandro Scarlatti and his son Domenico, and Handel, all of whom inspired and were inspired by one another. Musical gatherings of the time – called conversazione – often featured dramatic cantatas as well as virtuoso instrumental showpieces such as the works featured on this album.
Recalling this fertile musical era, rising star countertenor Andrew Radley with Julian Perkins and his London-based period instrument ensemble Sounds Baroque, dispatch these entertaining vocal works with aplomb, interspersed with virtuosic harpsichord works performed to perfection by Perkins. With this, the first in a series of conversazione recordings, Sounds Baroque celebrates the passion, theatricality and sheer variety of music from the 17th and 18th centuries.
“This debut disc from Sounds Baroque draws up a ringside seat and delves into the lovelorn world of the secular dramatic cantata with compelling specimens by Caldara and Alessandro Scarlatti...With delightfully expressive woodwind 'conversations' topping and tailing the disc, classy continuo, and deftly imaginative programming, Sounds Baroque proves a stylish ornament to the most discerning Cardinal's Court. Roll on Conversazioni Vol. 2!” BBC Music Magazine, November 2011 ****
“There's a seductive tonal warmth (sometimes too seductive) to his voice. The countertenor does let loose the cutting edge of Handel's Mi palpita il cor...It's hearting to discover yet another group of young musicians, fuelled by intellectual curiosity and a corporate commitment to excellence, with enterprise and genuine flair. Roll on Conversazione II.” Classic FM Magazine, September 2011 ****
“Andrew Radley demonstrates tender story-telling skills during the soft "Camminando lei pian piano"...In gentle arias [his] singing has affectionate intimacy and delicacy (such as Caldara's lovely last aria, "Parto mio ben costante"). I look forward to Volume 2.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2011
“Countertenor Andrew Radley is both swoonsome and stately, depending on the material: the somewhat melancholy progress of Albinoni's "Senza il core del mio bene", for instance, befitting a love plaint of such wretched torment, while a more playful involvement suits Handel's "Vedendo Amor", with its tortuous tale of mythic enslavement by Cupid.” The Independent, 15th July 2011 ***