Review by: John Greene
Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 9
Giulio Caccini (1551-1618) is remembered primarily as one of the earliest songwriters and teachers of an elaborately expressive singing style that facilitated the development of opera. He was known to be able to sing in multiple registers, could perform on a variety of stringed instruments–and also was quite an accomplished gardener (which according to the notes provided him and his family necessary extra income during his final years). The program’s title, Il Giardino di Giulio Caccini (The Garden of Giulio Caccini), in one sense slyly refers to Caccini’s horticultural skill, though more pointedly recalls his legacy and influence on the works of his contemporaries.
Two songs about unrequited love, Guglielmo Miniscalchi’s “Amor, che deggio far?” (Love, what should I do?) and Barbara Strozzi’s “Da gl’abissi del mio core” (From the depths of my heart), are among the program’s most exhilarating and passionate. Accompanying himself on Baroque guitar, vocal soloist Marco Horvat’s performances are simply astounding. By often severely altering dynamics and augmenting his stunning tessitura with an occasional telling laugh, sigh, and groan, he fully evokes the torment of the emotionally conflicted.
Horvat’s duet with soprano Olga Pitarch in Enrico Radesca di Foggia’s “Si de los ojos nace” (If the eyes give rise), with its momentum shifts and rolling percussion during the refrains, is equally captivating. Arguably the most telling example of Caccini’s influence is heard in “Chi mi confort’haim?” (Who will comfort me), where Horvat’s elongated gestures are strikingly reminiscent of those that Monteverdi eventually perfected in his madrigal settings and operas. Alpha’s sound is exceptional, with impressive detail and natural balances.
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Recording Details:Album Title: IL GIARDINO DI GIULIO CACCINI
Reference Recording: none
Late-16th/early-17th century vocal and instrumental works by Caccini, Frescobaldi, Strozzi, others -