Arias for Nicolino

Carlo Vistoli countertenor, Talenti Vulcanici, Stefano Demicheli
62:26
Arcana A 427
Handel, Pergolesi, Sarro & A. Scarlatti

Famous for creating the eponymous role in Handel’s spectacularly successful opera Rinaldo, Nicola Grimaldi – known as Nicolino – was as admired for his lyrical voice as his refined abilities as an actor, the second of these allowing him to draw in the crowds until his death at 59 when his voice was probably past its youthful best. Carlo Vistoli is yet another of the current crop of remarkable male alto voices, whose vocal ease even in the higher registers in which Nicolino excelled is apparent.

And having introduced us to his readings of three arias from Rinaldo  with orchestral episodes, he also performs other music inspired and sung by Nicolino, including Arias from Alessandro Scarlatti’s Il Cambise  and Pergolesi’s Salustia  as well as a section from Arsace  by the relatively unknown Neapolitan composer Domenico Natale Sarro. As more attention is paid to the rich Baroque operatic scene in Naples, it can come as no surprise that Sarro turns out to be a composer of striking capabilities and originality. Talenti Vulcanici are another of these superb Baroque ensembles specializing in accompanying operatic Divas and Divos. Are they cloning these somewhere secretly, or are the same excellent players regularly meeting up under different names? It would seem not, and that these groups have simply sprung up to meet a growing demand for Baroque opera live and on CD. A CD like this ultimately stands or falls on the merits of the soloist, and with a couple of slight reservations, mainly regarding excessive vibrato when he turns up the volume, I must say that Vistoli provides thoughtful and vocally impressive accounts of this dramatic music.

D. James Ross