Photo: Yves Petit
Le Jardin des Voix
A recording produced by Les Arts Florissants for Harmonia Mundi called Un jardin à l’italienne is the product of a young artists program founded in 2002 and directed by William Christie and Paul Agnew. Called the Académie du Jardin des Voix, the program for emerging singers is a branch of the long running early music ensemble, Les Arts Florissants that Christie founded in 1979. Selection for the Academy is competitive. The six artists for this 7th season were chosen from several hundred candidates and include soprano Lucía Martín-Cartón, mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre, countertenor Carlo Vistoli, tenor Nicholas Scott, baritone Renato Dolcini, and bass John Taylor Ward.
All six sing together in the opening track of this recording, the comic madrigal Gia che ridotti siamo composed by Adriano Banchieri. In it, the singers gather and introduce themselves: “Who should sing the soprano parts” one asks. “I know the part!” another responds. How about alto, how about tenor, how about falsetto…? “Here I am!” they respond each in turn, and “I’ll sing Bass just for the fun of it” says the last. Then all together… “Now, let’s enjoy ourselves…”
March Through Time
The thoughtful and well-organized CD curates a march through time that provides listeners a marvelous listening journey. Born in 1568, Banchieri along with his contemporary Orazio Vecchi and the earlier Giaches De Wert represent Baroque music at its inception. The program also includes Handel’s poignant Lascia la spina (that he later morphed into the ultra-famous Lasica ch’io pianga for his opera Rinaldo), mad scenes from operas by both Handel and Vivaldi, a cantata selection from Stradella along with extracts from operas by both Cimarosa and Sarro, all with emotional affectations that range from the sassy to the defiant to the sublime. But the disc closes as it should, with a happy ending and finale from Haydn’s Orlando Paladino of 1782.
With the thunderous applause at the end of this CD, you can almost imagine yourself there, on tour with the Académie in Australia at the Melbourne Recital Centre where this disc was recorded live in March of 2015.