Caro Gemello:

BBC Music Magazine - - Choral & Song Reviews -

Farinelli and Me­tas­ta­sia Works by C Broschi, Cal­dara, Con­forto, Gi­a­comelli, Hasse and Por­pora

Valer Sabadus (coun­tertenor); Con­certo Köln

Sony 88985305382 71:50 mins

This al­bum of Baroque mu­si­cal snapshots re­calls the friend­ship be­tween cel­e­brated li­bret­tist Pi­etro Me­tas­ta­sio and the su­per­star cas­trato Farinelli, whom he af­fec­tion­ately called his ‘dear twin’ (‘caro gemello’). Ex­tracts from or­a­to­rios and stage works by Cal­dara, ★asse and Por­pora, and all-but-for­got­ten arias by shad­owy names like Nicola Con­forto and Gem­ini­ano Gi­a­comelli trace their pro­fes­sional rap­port. We even hear Farinelli’s own vale­dic­tory can­zona ‘La Partenza’.

Con­certo Köln – the sil­ver-toned Rolls-royce of pe­riod en­sem­bles – han­dles this jour­ney with suave style and flaw­less con­trol. From the cur­tain-rais­ing sin­fo­nia to the fi­nal ‘pathos aria’, rhythms pulse and dance while the ever-chang­ing mu­si­cal scenes are shaded and lit with all the drama of the opera house. Ro­ma­nian coun­tertenor

Valer Sabadus makes for a re­fined Farinelli, and where his smoky voice lacks in power, it gains in agility. ★e breezes through the col­oratura arias, with their vir­tu­oso roulades and ver­tig­i­nous leaps (though his ten­dency to surge on the higher notes is tire­some; and ★asse’s ‘Di quello ch’io provo’ pushes his lower reg­is­ter a whisker be­yond com­fort). Sabadus re­ally shines, though, in the more in­ti­mate arias: Cal­dara’s ‘Questi al cor’, to which he lends del­i­cate grace, and the achingly beau­ti­ful ‘Quel buon pas­tor son io’, sung with a ten­der yearn­ing. Per­haps the high­light of the disc is an aria which gave ★an­del a run for his money: Por­pora’s ‘Alto Giove’, whose liq­uid melody and soft-ebbing strings let this va­porous voice float ef­fort­lessly. Kate Bolton-por­ci­atti

PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★

RECORD­ING ★★★★★

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