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Turning training exercises into high art

Cecilia BartoliIn many ways, this is a very simple CD, featuring Cecilia Bartoli as her voice was back in 1992 (Decca re-issued this in 2005) Arie antiche are a collection of pieces, put together at the end of the nineteenth century, which were designed to train classical singers in vocal smoothness, control, pitching, ornamentation and expressiveness, particularly in the Baroque tradition – or at least the baroque tradition filtered through late nineteenth century vision. So we have pieces by Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Giordani, Paisello – all Italian baroque. And the subtitle ‘Se tu m’ami, indicates these will be love songs, so we are right to expect tenderly seduced ears and a melting heart!

Simply arranged with only an accompanying piano, there is nowhere for the singer to hide

Bartoli 2008 Wikimedia

Bartoli 2008 Wikimedia

The CD comes with an accompanying booklet with the words of each aria in Italian and translated into English

In Bartoli’s hands (or most properly larynx pharynx et al) these are far far more than the vocal equivalent of practicing scales, they are intensely musical pieces in their own right which will reveal both the strength and the weakness of the singer.

Listen, for example to the utterly haunting Caro mio ben, by Giordani, where Bartolo’s rich but never florid mezzo caresses this love song. What lover could fail to melt, and ‘put an end to this coldness’ as the singer implores! Lotti’s Pur dicesti o bocca bella, a little song in praise of the lover’s kissable mouth is splendidly flirtatious and seductive. I could go on, pulling out track after track to enthuse over, – of the 21 tracks, about half are, in my opinion, as pieces of music, quite stunning. And all are breathed into life by Bartoli’s deliciously un-strained, flexible vocals. She strokes, not stabs, the listener’s ears
Cecilia Bartoli – Arie Antiche: Se tu m’ami Amazon UK
Cecilia Bartoli – Arie Antiche: Se tu m’ami Amazon USA