Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:

  41:1 (09-10 /2017)
Pour s'abonner / Subscription information
Les abonnés à Fanfare Magazine ont accès aux archives du magazine sur internet.
Subscribers to Fanfare Magazine have access to the archives of the magazine on the net.


Code-barres / Barcode : 3760195734278


Outil de traduction ~ (Très approximatif)
Translator tool (Very approximate)

Reviewer: Bertil van Boer


Continuing a trend that focuses on performers rather than composers, this disc explores works written for castrato Nicola Grimaldi (1673–1732), also known as Nicolino. Trained in Naples in the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini, his vocal skill even as a young boy was enough to debut at 12 years old. Following the operation, his voice matured downwards towards the mezzo range, but he maintained his stature as a leading singer due both to its dexterity and deep expressive quality. It also did not hurt that he was apparently a consummate actor, able to portray a variety of operatic characters with considerable emotion and realism. His early association with Alessandro Scarlatti also helped to some degree, but by 1700 he had outgrown Naples and began a career elsewhere, eventually arriving in London in 1708. By 1712 he had become acquainted with Handel, performing in Rinaldo, one of the composer’s greatest successes. For much of the rest of his life he apparently traveled back and forth to Italy, and his success and fame, never quite on the level of Farinelli, nonetheless won him many fans even as he aged. Of course, his roles in the opera seria of the time were legion, but this disc attempts to give some examples, performed by countertenor Carlo Vistoli with a small Baroque period instrument ensemble, the Talenti Vulcanici.

First off, I am not entirely convinced of using various instrumental bits from the operas in a disc devoted to a single singer’s legacy. It’s not that the performances lack talent. Indeed, the rather feisty Prelude to Rinaldo is short enough not to disturb at the beginning, but when the entire overture is performed later on, it seems a bit of overkill, as does the inclusion of the instrumental sinfonia from Amadigi. Both are done with a cautious style that is perfectly nice though not revelatory. Indeed, there is more than a bit of musical similarity in the slow openings, very French with extensive double dotted rhythms, and the contrapuntal faster sections that seem to wander as is Handel’s wont. The Sarro overture, on the other hand, seems more Italian in its opening fanfares and unisons that call the audience to order. His short 30-second second movement evokes Vivaldi in the dotted rhythms that lead directly into a rather stark triple meter dance movement that was more than a little modern in the late Baroque style. As for the arias, they are show-stoppers. In the Sarro first example from Arsace, the agitation and tortuous coloratura demonstrate a good grasp of the opera seria solo aria form. This is a sort of “Take that, Farinelli” in terms of difficulty, but it is short, perhaps because it is an expostulation rather than a tour de force. The two Pergolesi arias from Salustia are at the dawn of the Classical style, with the first a lyrical content interrupted by some definitive unisons. It is clear here that the range indicates Nicolino was getting on in years, since the tessitura is hardly as expansive as in the Handel examples. The second aria, “Per trucidar,” is typical as an agitato with a bit of recitative inserted into the stormy main section. Again, the tessitura is not great, with Pergolesi writing for someone whose voice is not still in its prime but that can still wield much dramatic expression. Of the Handel arias, the “Cara sposa” from Rinaldo stands out as gentle, soaring, and quite dramatic, with its opening mezza di voce and gently mournful lyrical line. It is a tour de force that requires great stamina, not for the pyrotechnics but rather for the need for constant emotional display.

Countertenor Vistoli does a nice job in recreating Nicolino’s dramatic style. He doesn’t force his tone or his lyricism, and as a result the voice contains some particularly moving emotion. I am less impressed by the Talenti Vulcanici, which I find a bit inconsistent. The violins in particular are scratchy at times in their upper registers, but the two oboes know how to give their lines nice nuances. The tempos seem a bit staid at times, though in rapid passages, such as that of “Cara sposa,” the brief outbursts have considerable energy. Given that most of this is already available elsewhere for complete recordings, I would suggest that this disc will be of interest to those who wish to compare the music that the composers of that age wrote for particular castrati. For that reason alone it would be worthwhile acquiring.

Fermer la fenêtre/Close window

   Support us financially by purchasing this disc from eiher one of these suppliers.
  FR  -  U.S.  -  UK  -  CA  -  DE  JA -  
Un achat via l'un ou l'autre des fournisseurs proposés contribue à défrayer les coûts d'exploitation de ce site.

Cliquez l'un ou l'autre bouton pour découvrir bien d'autres critiques de CD
 Click either button for many other reviews