Alma Oppressa: Arias by Vivaldi and Handel

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Julie Boulianne, mezzo-soprano; Clavecin en Concert; Luc Beauséjour

Analekta AN2 8780, 59 min.

Canadian singer Julie Boulianne has quickly become an international star. She performs regularly at the Met, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and throughout Europe. She has an extraordinarily wide repertoire from Bach to Adès. In her latest recording she shows us what she can do in Vivaldi and Handel. For this CD she is joined by long-time collaborators, harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour and his small period instrument group, Ensemble Clavecin en Concert. Much of the music is pretty obscure but it is performed with enthusiasm and expertise.

The CD is comprised of three Vivaldi arias and six by Handel. There are also two Vivaldi Sinfonias or opera overtures, and an excerpt from the overture to Handel’s opera Lotario. None of the instrumental music is particularly memorable but it helps to break up the succession of vocal numbers.

Boulianne is absolutely superb in her command of the numerous up tempo melismatic passages in the music of both Vivaldi and Handel. But in addition the beauty of her voice is even more impressive, from the lowest register to the very top of her range. In the aria “Alma oppressa” (a soul oppressed) from Vivaldi’s La fida ninfa Boulianne is in total command. The music is florid, with wide leaps and surprisingly chromatic passages but Boulianne and the ensemble meet every challenge. The aria “Sovvente il sole” – “the sun shines more brightly and pleasantly when it has previously been obscured by a dark cloud” – from Vivaldi’s Andromeda liberata is just as impressive for its lyrical long lines and for its important violin obbligato.

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About Author

Former conductor and broadcaster, Paul E. Robinson, is the author of four books on conductors, Digital Editor for Classical Voice America, Reviews Editor for Musical Toronto, and a regular contributor to La Scena Musicale. To learn more about Paul, visit his website at www.theartoftheconductor.com/news/.

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