Philippe Jaroussky

The Voice

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The rise of the countertenor is one of the major musical developments of the early 21st century, and French singer Philippe Jaroussky has been at the heart of it. He not only has a glorious voice, creamy, with multiple shades, yet somehow with the fragility to take on Baroque opera's doomed heroines; he has the dramatic sense and an exquisite injured quality necessary for the opera genre, the dominant one during the Baroque. His popularity has expanded well beyond historical-performance circles, with some of his YouTube videos achieving Bieber-esque hit counts. He modestly avers that a best-of album may be ambitious for an artist in his early thirties, but in reality the two CDs here aren't quite enough to cover what he has accomplished: Vivaldi, which is what he's best known for, is somewhat shortchanged. Nevertheless, this is a very good place to start with Jaroussky if you've bypassed him. The selections are drawn from albums Jaroussky made between 2004 and 2011. Needless to say, he's in fine voice throughout, and the collection covers his major Baroque specialties as well as selections from Opium, his 2009 release covering French late Romantic music. These take up the bulk of the second half of disc 1, and a few might have been left out to in order to bulk up the Baroque areas. On the plus side, however, are the new recordings that are included; Jaroussky fans will be convinced of the rightness of their purchase from the new opening track, Nicola Porpora's Alto giove. Another advantage for confirmed Jaroussky lovers is the opportunity to hear how his voice slightly changes as he works with the leading lights of the historical-instrument movement; he is a delightfully sensitive ensemble performer. Listen and enjoy.

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