Et in Arcadia ego: Italian Cantatas & Sonatas

Concentus VII
67:16
Resonus REC10142
Handel Mi palpita il cor, Pensieri notturni di Filli, Oboe sonata HWV357
Lotti Ti sento o Dio bendato
Mancini Recorder sonata no. 1 in d
A. Scarlatti Bella s’io t’amo, Filli tu sai s’io t’amo

This is an excellent recording of some really nice 18th-century music for soprano with oboe or recorder(s). Emily Atkinson’s beautifully controlled voice is perfectly matched by Belinda Paul’s oboe and Louise Strickland’s recorder. They are joined by Amélie Addison and Martin Knizia on cello and harpsichord respectively. The programme is built around the Roman Arcadian Academy, who played host to all of the composers represented apart from Francesco Mancini, whose presence is justified (if it needed to be) by his having taken over control of music in the Naples churches during Scarlatti’s sojourn in Rome. What a privilege it must have been to be a member of such a club, if the performances there were anything approaching the quality of these! My sole reservation is the soprano’s incessant “decoration” of the vocal lines to the point of their being unrecognisable; now, I know that there is evidence for some extreme ornamentation but surely the reason they survive is because someone had to write them down in order to remember them; i. e., they were not a spontaneous act of enhancement – and therefore not the norm. I feel it is actually a pity that such a beautiful voice is wasted in such gratuitous display. She would do far better to step away from the manuscript paper and play to her undeniable strength – that truly beautiful voice! In comparison the woodwind players are models of restraint. Interesting booklet notes, and full English translations of the texts.

Brian Clark