Max Emanuel Cencic / George Petrou / Armonia Atenea

Rokoko: Hasse Opera Arias

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Rokoko is Croatian counter tenor Max Emanuel Cencic's 2014 release on Decca, in which he explores the elaborate and emotionally stirring arias of Johann Adolf Hasse, one of the neglected masters of 18th century opera. These 11 vocal selections reflect the popular taste of the period, oriented as it was to the extraordinary abilities of the great castrati. Supported by George Petrou and the period instruments group Armonia Atenea, which plays with authentic rococo sonorities, rhythmic vigor, and precision, Cencic displays astonishing virtuosity and power in the arias taken from Hasse's long forgotten operas, Arminio, Il Siroe, Tito Vespasiano, L'Olimpiade, Ipermestra, Il Trionfo di Clelia, La Spartana Generosa, and Tigrane, as well as an aria from the oratorio, Il Cantico de’ Tre Fanciulli. Cencic demonstrates both control and flexibility in the ornate passages, and an intensity of expression and richness of tone comparable to a mezzo-soprano. For an instrumental break in the program, Theodore Kitsos performs the Mandolin Concerto in G, a charming work reminiscent of Vivaldi, though it is much lighter than the vocal pieces that make this album essential listening. Cencic has already established an enviable legacy on Capriccio and Erato, and this stellar album suggests that his prospects in recording for Decca are bright indeed.

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