11 May, 2018

Nathalie Stutzmann and Orfeo 55

Quella Fiamma: Arie AnticheConcert Review: Nathalie Stutzmann and Orfeo 55

May 11, CH
Nathalie Stutzmann and Orfeo 55
From Venice to Versailles

We were fortunate to have heard this concert, part of Le French May festival. The program blends largely obscure Italian baroque contralto arias from Parisotti's collection Arie Antiche with a few instrumental pieces. Everyone will recognize the names of Handel, Vivaldi,  Scarlatti, but not so much Caldara, Cavalli, Bononcini, Conti, Durante and Falconieri.

The vocal program is largely culled from their recent CD, Quella Fiamma (details here), which has garnered much praise. But the instrumental numbers are quite different, with Lully and Rameau added to fit into the theme of Le French May, I suppose.

Nathalie Stutzmann sings very well. Her somewhat smoky voice is not particularly powerful, but it is well projected. She colors her voice as the music requires and her characterizations are vivid. There were no surprises - the best numbers were the best known, Ah! Mio cor, schernito sei from Handel's Alcina that closed the first half, and two by Vivaldi towards the end of the second.

Stutzmann is also a serious conductor (now principal guest conductor of Ireland's RTE), and it shows in how she lovingly shaped the instrumental numbers. The largely female Orefo 55 play radiantly with gut strings, with outstanding contributions from the principals, particularly the very fine cellist and first violin. I noted the violins were much better projected in the second half, likely due to tuning. The encore, the well known Plaisir d'amour, is also on the CD.

Simplement merveilleux!

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