BBC Music Magazine

Caro Gemello:


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



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