A Scar­latti

BBC Music Magazine - - Choral & Song Reviews -

Il Primo Omi­cidio

Gra­ciela Od­done, Dorothea Röschmann (so­pra­nos),

Bernarda Fink (alto), René Jacobs (coun­tertenor), Richard Croft (tenor), An­to­nio Abete (bass); Akademie Fur Alte Musik Ber­lin/rené Jacobs Har­mo­nia Mundi HMM 931649-50 138:24 mins (2 discs)

Alessan­dro Scar­latti wrote this or­a­to­rio-like work for Venice in 1707. It presents the bru­tal story of Cain, ‘the first mur­derer’ (‘il primo omi­cidio’), and his brother Abel, as told in the book of Gen­e­sis. Like most or­a­to­rios, there is no pro­vi­sion for scenery or ac­tion, but nei­ther is there a nar­ra­tor or a com­ment­ing cho­rus, and this tends to di­lute the dra­matic ef­fects.

The singers and in­stru­men­tal­ists are good, but oc­ca­sion­ally have to com­pen­sate for some rather rou­tine mu­si­cal ideas. Bernarda Fink

(Cain), for ex­am­ple, sub­tly in­jects an un­der­cur­rent of jeal­ous anger into ‘Della terra i frutti’, but when mus­ing on some un­set­tling dis­tur­bances in na­ture (‘Per­ché mormora il rus­cello?’) she strug­gles against mu­sic that has lit­tle to do with re­flec­tive ques­tion­ing. Sim­i­larly René Jacobs (the ‘Voice of God’), finds it hard to sus­tain grav­i­tas in the face of the perky lit­tle ac­com­pa­ni­ment to ‘Vuò il cas­tigo’. Ga­ciela Od­done (Abel) is clear and meliflu­ous, and Dorothea Röschmann (Eve) is fully in com­mand of vo­cal colour and chro­matic tun­ing (see ‘Caro sposo’).

The prize for vo­cal agility, how­ever, goes to Richard Croft (Adam) who man­ages to squeeze some ex­tra dec­o­ra­tion into the hec­tic ‘Mi balena’ aria, and An­to­nio Abete makes a sonorous Lu­cifer, though he might have been more in­sid­i­ously en­tic­ing in ‘Bramo in­sieme’. The or­ches­tral play­ing is well crafted and does its best to breathe in­ter­est into the mu­sic, though some­times the pace is slightly mis­judged, as in the Adam and Eve duet ‘Aderite o figli’.

An­thony Pryer

PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★

RECORD­ING ★★★★

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