Tuesday 5 December 2017

Vividly live re-creations: Giuseppina Bridelli, L'Arpeggiata & Christina Pluhar in Luigi Rossi

La lyra d'Orfeo - Luigi Rossi, Maurizio Cazzati, Lorenzo Allegri; Giuseppina Bridelli, L'Arpeggiata, Christina Pluhar; Wigmore Hall
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Dec 1 2017 Star rating: 4.5
17th century Italian opera in an engaging sequence from this remarkable group

L'Arpeggiata, director Christina Pluhar, is an early music group like no other. The group brings an element of freedom, improvisation and fantasy to msc, and performers often cross the boundaries into traditional music and other fields.

For the L'Arpeggiata's concert at Wigmore Hall on 1 December 2017 it was joined by mezzo-soprano Giuseppina Bridelli for La lyra d'Orfeo, a 75 minute sequence devoted mainly to arias from Luigi Rossi's operas. So we heard music from Il palazzo incantato and Orfeo, plus instrumental items from Maurizio Cazzati and Lorenzo Allegri.

Luigi Rossi (1597-1653) is not the best known of Italian 17th century opera composers, perhaps because he was based oin Rome where politics and the Church sometimes got in the way of presenting opera. Il palazzo intantato, based on Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, was commissioned for Carnival 1642 by Cardinal Antonio Barberini. When the Barberini family fell and fled to Paris, Rossi followed and his opera Orfeo was written for Paris, in the ill fated attempt to graft Italian opera onto the French court (the opera was given a staging by the Royal Opera at the Globe Theatre in 2015, see my review).

The programme flowed continuously, with gaps for re-tuning and some spontaneous applause. There were a couple of moments when I was not entirely clear whether we were listening to the programme exactly as printed, and some of the arias rather merged into each other. Others seem to have been given the L'Arpeggiata treatment and were imaginatively re-scored from the originals.

But none of this mattered.
The instrumentalists gave us an engaging combination of technical virtuosity, imaginative musicality and charm, often along with a sense of swing in the music. With dance rhythms frequently fundamental to the music, this was music you really wanted to dance to. It helped that many of the items were based around the ground bass, so that much of the music seem to be free flowing and dazzling over the ever circling hypnotic bass.

Add to this the highly engaging and expressive singing of Giuseppina Bridelli. she really has a snse of speaking tones and you hardly needed to refer to the translations as she moved between aria, arioso and recitative with great immediacy and vivid communication. There were two really extended pieces. First, 'Dove mi spingi, Amor' from Il palazzo incantato, a vivid free accompagnato with a fluid sense of structure which developed towards a tremendously vivid ending. And then 'Al soave spirare d'aure serene' (Lamento d'Arione) a small scale scena from the same opera which was again wonderfully fluid and vivid.

All the instrumentalists were given moments to shine, all were notable. Prime place, however, must be given to Doron Sherwin for his ability to give the cornetto such a mellow quality to its timbre. Alongside him, and equally striking, were Judith Steenbrink and Adriana Alcaide violins, Lixsania Fernandez and Rodney Prada violas da gamba, Josextu Obregon cello, Francesco Turrisi harpsichord / organ / percussion, HaruKitamika harpsichord / organ. The preponderance of lower instruments (two violas da gamba plus a cello) gave the overall instrumental sound an engaging richness which, thanks to the lively and alert playiing, never congealed into something heavy.

Shorn of context and staging, operatic music of this period is in danger of seeming either inconsequential or dry. But there was noting dutiful about this performanc, as Giuseppina Bridelli, Christina Pluhar and L'Arpeggiata recaptured the magic and drama of the music, the engaging sense of a live re-creation,

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1 comment:

  1. Absolutely adored this - hope it was recorded for Medici.tv/a BBC radio broadcast!


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