Marta Infante

Georg Philipp Telemann: Alto Cantatas

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The entry of Spanish musicians into the mainstream of historical performance of Baroque music continues with this release, featuring the superb young contralto Marta Infante in a series of "alto cantatas" -- short works from the Harmonischer Gottesdienst (1725) for solo alto and a small ensemble, consisting of a pair of arias with one or two recitatives. These works represent Telemann at his most Bachian, with the affect and imagery of the arias representing basic ideas of the Lutheran faith. The programmatic aspect is more direct than in Bach, and initially the music seems to be intended for singers of lesser gifts than Infante. But what she accomplishes is a rare thing: a truly virtuoso reading of music with modest dimensions. Infante looks for all the world like a major new presence on the Baroque scene. Her voice has a wide vibrato that is nevertheless startlingly controlled and firmly tied to the center of the pitch, and she has an uncanny way of being able to hang back in the slower arias at low dynamic labels with a kind of shimmering presence, finally emerging with an outburst on a key word. When the pedal meets the metal as Satan enters the scene in a virtuoso aria like "Schwarzer Geist der Dunkelheit" (track 14), from the cantata Ergeuß dich zur Salbung der schmachtenden Seele, TWV 1:448, she generates extraordinary momentum, sticking precisely to the tempo for the first parts of the aria's fast sections and then introducing just enough variance to suggest a singer in perfect control of difficult music. One looks forward to hearing her in Handelian showpieces, but also in smaller works like these, to which she brings a distinctive and non-diva-like personality. Everything else is in place: the lively and sympathetic quartet accompaniment (with organ and archlute continuo) by the Ensemble Fontegara under Raúl Mallavibarrena, excellent sound under the co-production of Infante and Mallavibarrena themselves in the church of San Andrés in a town with the poetic name of Quintanas Rubias de Arriba, and hip graphic design (on the back cover you get not Infante, but her empty office chair). A group of Telemann cantatas by a singer from far outside the heartland of the north German Baroque may seem an odd choice for the potential purchaser, or for that singer's major recital debut, but it is a brilliant success on all counts.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Weicht ihr Sünden, bleibt dahinten, sacred cantata for voice, violin & continuo (HGD), TWV 1:1538
1
4:04
2
1:30
3
5:01
Beglückte Zeit, sacred cantata for voice & continuo, TWV 1:118
4
0:25
5
4:35
6
1:10
7
3:48
Wer ist, der dort von Edom kömmt, sacred cantata for voice, violin & continuo (HGD), TWV 1:1584
8
0:47
9
4:36
10
1:34
11
4:12
Ergötzt euch nur, ihr eitlen Seelen, sacred cantata for chorus, flute, 2 oboes, strings & continuo, TWV 1:448
12
5:29
13
1:41
14
6:05
Die stärkende Wirkung, sacred cantata for voice, violin & continuo (HGD), TWV 1:363
15
2:49
16
1:33
17
8:34
Hirt' und Bischof uns'rer Seelen, sacred cantata for voice, violin & continuo (HGD), TWV 1:805
18
2:56
19
1:47
20
5:39
Liebe, die vom Himmel flammet, sacred cantata for voice, violin & continuo (HGD), TWV 1:1044
21
2:42
22
1:23
23
2:53
blue highlight denotes track pick