The duet madrigal, chamber cantata, or aria was a prime form of the early Baroque, ready-made for a noble family that wished to display its house singers and even draw from them a little bit of competition. There are a number of albums in the genre on the market, but Amore e morte dell'amore (Love and the Death of Love), from reigning Baroque soprano queen Roberta Invernizzi and newer contralto talent Sonia Prina, stands out from the crowd. First there are the rich voices of the singers themselves, who could sing a random web search page and make it sound good, and their razor-sharp coordination. Second is the program, which traverses the entire 17th century and moves into the 18th, holding everything together thematically and largely avoiding well-known numbers (other than the finale duet from Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea), touching on some unusual mid-century finds by Antonio Lotti and Francesco Durante, with a well-placed ensemble treatment of a Domenico Scarlatti sonata as an interlude. That piece shows off the talents of the Ensemble Claudiana, new faces on the historical-performance scene. Above all these individual factors is their coherence into an overall package. Invernizzi and Prina get the intimate chamber quality of most of this music, its natural habitat of a music room with a group of connoisseurs who were ready to listen closely. They are virtuosic, lithe, and playful, even when they approach a serious text. Naïve supports them beautifully with studio sound. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|L'incoronazione di poppea|