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Vivaldi: Griselda / Spinosi, Lemieux, Ensemble Matheus

Album Summary

>Vivaldi, Antonio : Griselda, RV 718
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"This performance is sublime. Jean-Christophe Spinosi leads a dramatically taut reading, with his period-instrument Ensemble Matheus underpinning the vocal theatrics with snap and a huge range of dynamics all its own... His handling of the recitatives--with the assistance of a cast that truly seems to care for the plot--is natural and always focused on the pace of speech... The sound, booklet notes, and translations are first rate. In case I haven't made this clear enough: Go out and buy this; it's a feast for the ears." -Classics Today (10/10); BBC Music Magazine Opera Award Winner

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Griselda was first performed at Venice's Teatro di San Samuele during spring 1735. Apostolo Zeno's libretto, based on a tale from Boccacio's Decameron, was adapted for Vivaldi by Carlo Goldoni: Gualtiero is forced by political unrest and public criticism of his common-born wife Griselda to prove her noble worth by subjecting her to a torrent of cruel tests.

Marie-Nicole Lemieux's passionate performance of the title-role has vivid handling of text and emotive singing. Stefano Ferrari gets around Gualtiero's fiendish coloratura competently, and 'Tu vorresti col tuo pianto' is a rarity among Vivaldi's operas: a bona fide first-class tenor aria of real distinction, beauty and dramatic subtlety. Simone Kermes navigates Ottone's wide leaps in the slow aria 'Vede orgoglosia' with immaculate poise and tenderness, and in 'Dopo un'orrida' gleefully represents Ottone's premature exultation with some outstanding pyrotechnics. Veronica Cangemi provides some relaxed, attractive coloratura.

Philippe Jaroussky's arias are consistently gorgeous but he is also surprisingly strong at the tempestuous 'Che legge tiranna'. Iestyn Davies is impressive in the colourful hunting aria 'Alle minaccie'.

Spinosi's pacing of the arias suggests sensible interpretation of Vivaldi's instructions. In extrovert arias one occasionally hears some contrived clattering bows from the strings but there is a substantial problem throughout the performance caused by underwhelming, pale playing from the lower strings. Three cellists and two basses play quietly most of the time, making the hushed basso continuo far too thin and rarely giving enough depth and texture to the dynamic width of Vivaldi's harmonic writing. One imagines the stronger musical sense that Alessandrini, Dantone or Sardelli might have brought to Griselda. Despite reservations about the topheavy instrumental textures, this finely sung recording unveils another inventive opera.



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Works Details

>Vivaldi, Antonio : Griselda, RV 718
  • Performers: Stefano Ferrari (Tenor); Veronica Cangemi (Soprano); Philippe Jaroussky (Countertenor); Iestyn Davies (Countertenor); Simone Kermes (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Jean-Christophe Spinosi
  • Ensemble: Ensemble Matheus
  • Running Time: 2 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 05/18/1735