Maria Grazia Schiavo / Auser Musici / Carlo Ipata

Cherubini: Arias & Overtures from Florence to Paris

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Luigi Cherubini, buried next to Chopin in Paris, was universally hailed as a great composer during his own time; even Beethoven admired works like the Requiem in C minor of 1816. It's easy to understand Beethoven's reactions; in an age when lightness still ruled, Cherubini's mature works had great seriousness of purpose. The works on this release are a bit different. They date from the 1780s, before and just after Cherubini moved to Paris and scored his first success there with Démophoon. That work's substantial overture is included here, and a notable feature of the various overtures and sinfonias on the album is the sober workmanship that could let them pass for Mozart or early Beethoven (whose favored tonality of C minor is forecast to the Démophoon overture). The arias are something else again. They look back to the ornate opera seria style of the third quarter of the 18th century, exemplified by composers like Niccolò Jommelli. The arias tax the voice of soprano Maria Grazia Schiavo, who is quick but not especially powerful. She is further damped down by the dead acoustic of the Teatro Verdi in Pisa. The historically oriented Florentine group Auser Musici has an attractive, flowing sound, and there's nothing to object to in this performance of some very rare music. Equally, it's not a strong pick even for a first Cherubini album.

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