Galuppi: Forgotten Arias of a Venetian Master - Catherine King (mezzo soprano) Il Canto di Orfeo, Gianluca Capuano
Baldassarre Galuppi wrote masterful musical comedies full of grace, striking a fine balance between comic and serious characters and situations. Though some of his comic operas are performed today, Galuppi’s opere serie are virtually unknown. Catherine King, together with the Italian musicians of Il Canto di Orfeo, rights this wrong with the only known collection of arias paying tribute to the composer in his anniversary year. Galuppi’s opere serie combine powerfully moving melodies with vocal fireworks in virtuoso arias. This recording is an absorbing traversal of his music drawn from manuscript sources.
Catherine King is well known in early music circles for her performances with Gothic Voices, Fretwork, lutenist Jacob Heringman and others. Milan-based Gianluca Capuano, who directs Il canto di Orfeo, has performed throughout Europe, the United States, Russia and Japan. Together King and Capuano have worked in Milan, Arezzo and Rome, notably for the 400th anniversary celebrations of the great baroque composer Giacomo Carissimi in 2004.
“Avie here marks his 300th anniversary – largely forgotten amid the Mozart and Shostakovich junketings – with a clutch of opera seria arias from the 1730s and '40s, before he teamed up with the playwright Carlo Goldoni to become the most successful opera buffa composer of the day.
Metastasio, doyen of opera seria librettists, once complained that Galuppi's music failed to express fully the emotions of the poetry. He may have thought again if he had heard the gravely eloquent E minor aria from Antigono, where soft trumpets add their mournful gloss to the strings.
If Galuppi's fiery bravura arias, à la Vivaldi, are less distinctive, his pathetic or soulful aried'affetto reveal his feeling for graceful, shapely melody and delicate orchestral textures: say, in a touching aria from Scipione in Cartagine (again, subtly coloured by trumpets), or a number ('Voi che languite') from an unknown opera.
Though caught in an uncomfortably swimmy church acoustic, Catherine King sings these attractive arias with firm, clear tone (her predominantly 'straight' sound selectively warmed with vibrato), elegant phrasing and agile, precise coloratura. She is splendidly vehement in the virtuoso castrato aria 'Benché giusto a vendicarmi' from Antigono, tenderly musing in 'Voi che languite', and smoothly negotiates the wide leaps between registers in the Scipione aria.
Il Canto di Orfeo accompany with verve and imagination, and on their own give vivid performances of two of Galuppi's Concerti a quattro for solo strings: the sober, Corellian G minor, and the more galant concerto in B flat, whose racy finale the players deck out with all sorts of jokey effects, right up to their zany, Stravinskified ending. Outrageous, but fun.”
1. L'Olimpiade, opera: Superbo di me stesso 2. Scipione in Cartagine, opera: Di madre ai cari amplessi 3. Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 1 in G minor: 1. Grave e Adagio 4. Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 1 in G minor: 2. Spiritoso 5. Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 1 in G minor: 3. Allegro 6. Il sagrifizio di Jephte, oratorio: Ah, di Lete dall'onda profinda 7. Voi che languite, aria for voice & orchestra 8. Il trionfo della continenza, opera: Cedo alla sorte 9. Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 6 in B flat major: 1. Grave e Sostenuto 10. Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 6 in B flat major: 2. Allegro e Spiritoso 11. Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 6 in B flat major: 3. Allegro