Sergio Vartolo

Monteverdi: L'Orfeo

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Recorded in 2006, this Brilliant Classics release of Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo by Sergio Vartolo is an exceptional presentation that connoisseurs of Baroque opera should consider. Vartolo and the Ad Hoc Bern ensemble of period instrumentalists may seem a little rough around the edges, at least initially in the brusque Toccata, but their performance has a spontaneity and vigor that suggests that any roughness is decorative. The controlled and intimate singing by Sylvia Pozzer (Musica/Euridice), William Matteuzzi (Orfeo), Sara Mingarda (Messaggera/Proserpina), and the rest of the cast of gods, shepherds, nymphs, and spirits make it plain that this presentation has been carefully rehearsed and thoughtfully paced to do justice to Monteverdi's highly expressive music. The voices are cleanly recorded, and every part is clearly separated, which aids in appreciating the words. This could suggest a degree of meticulousness in production that is too cautious, though the ensemble's improvisational spirit and varied instrumentation of period strings, winds, percussion, and continuo prevent the music from becoming sterile. While this recording has serious competition from many other versions, on balance this is much better than a "budget" recording, and worth hearing more than once.

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