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A Scarlatti: Chamber Cantatas

Lucile Richardot (mezzo), Philippe Grisvard (harpsichord) (Audax)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

A Scarlatti
Chamber cantatas: Sarei troppo felice, H631; La lezione di Musica, H547 etc
Lucile Richardot (mezzo), Philippe Grisvard (harpsichord)
Audax ADX11206    62:22 mins


Alessandro Scarlatti (d1725) wrote hundreds of cantatas, many of them for single voice and harpsichord like the five recorded here – not surprisingly, all but one of these is a premier recording. Their texts are largely musings on pastoral love rather than narrative adventures, but the intricate, musical understanding between the two performers does more than enough to bring these works to life.

Philippe Grisvard, an expert on historical keyboards, displays his gift for characterisation in the accompaniments with the skippy adornment he provides at the thought of dying happy in ‘Io morirei contento’ and in the unsettling harmonic twists that underpin the weeping stones of ‘La pena mia piangere I sassi’ (both from Al fin m’ucciderete). His quickfire dexterity is particularly evident in the opening harpsichord Allegro, though the speed does leave it a little featureless.

Lucile Richardot, too, is an established artist whose strong, steadfast mezzo tone and secure vocal flexibility have deservedly won prizes. In the extremely accomplished music of Sarei troppo felice she gives full voice to the pastoral yearning and dances easily across the changes of time in the aria ‘Che mi giova?’. She also renders expertly the vocal lessons between Thyrsis and Chloris in La lezione di musica, though occasionally she might have coloured her voice a little more to reflect emotional inflections, or the interrogative tone, and made more of the distinction between the narrative voice and the speaking characters.


Anthony Pryer