Marcello: Il pianto e il riso delle quattro stagione

Silvia Frigato Primavera, Elena Biscuola Estate, Raffaele Giordani Autumno, Mauro Borgioni Inverno, SATB, Venice Monteverdi Academy, Ensemble Lorenzo da Ponte, Roberto Zarpellon
122:30 (2 CDs)
fra bernardo FB 1503177

This allegorical oratorio for four soloists (representing the seasons), chorus and orchestra was written for the Jesuits in 1731, and was subsequently performed in Venice. In a tail of everyday allegorical nonsense, Winter returns from the mountains to discover that the Virgin Mary is dead; having expressed all the necessary grief, the four seasons then strive to claim to be the most important season of her life, until they finally resolve that none of them deserves such an accolade and they should instead rejoice in her ascent into Heaven. This is a modest (modern) performance in a large acoustic – the choir (4333) and orchestra (33111 with organ and harpsichord) fill the undisclosed venue. The music is actually very fine, especially some of the arias (the tenor Autumno has two that last over seven minutes and demand real virtuosity), and there is a rich variety of instrumental writing. I cannot help but think, though, that a HIP performance of it is long overdue – for one thing I found the regulation slow down before final cadences rather tiresome. The booklet only has an Italian libretto, so you will have to rely on the synopsis to keep up to date with what is going on.

Brian Clark