Elinor Frey cello, Suzie LeBlanc soprano, Lorenzo Ghielmi harpsichord, Esteban La Rotta theorbo
As well as presenting Angela Maria Fiorè (1660-1723)’s output for cello, this disc introduces a fairly recently discovered repertoire of opera arias featuring solo cello by such composers as Pollarolo and Marc’Antonio Ziani, in addition to less well-known names like Monza, Sabadini, Magni and Ballarotti. Beautifully recorded with a total of just four musicians, the programme is balanced between instrumental and vocal pieces, and shows not only that there is no need for a stringed bass for such repertoire, and how, even at this early stage in its development, late-17th-century Italian cellists (and composers) already recognised the exceptional singing quality of the instrument. Frey and LeBlanc display both warm lyricism and agile virtuosity – neither the arias nor the sonatas are lacking in technical demand. Ghielmi and La Rotta’s continuo realisations are richly inventive; I especially enjoyed the simple sounds of cello and theorbo alone, the elegantly shaped bowed lines contrasting with the gently pointed bass notes and occasional flourished chord – simply exquisite. Full marks then for discovery and execution!