Porpora: Opera Arias

Max Emanuel Cencic, Armonia Atenea, George Petrou
75:59
Decca 483 3235
Arias from Arianna in Nasso, Carlo il Calvo, Enea nel Lazio, Ezio, Filandro, Ifigenia in Aulide, Meride e Selinunte, Poro & Il trionfo di Camilla

INTENDED IN PART to mark the 250th anniversary of Porpora’s death, this recording is yet more evidence that the composer’s star appears to be in the ascendant; Cencic already appeared in a much-lauded recording (also on Decca) of his fine opera, Germanico in Germania – with some critics even suggesting it should be welcomed back into the regular repertoire! Here, 14 contrasting arias from nine operas (including no fewer than seven world premiere recordings) reveal how Cencic has grown in authority as he grows older; his voice has matured into a mean machine that relishes Porpora’s famed “singer’s music” – as a demanding vocal coach, he wrote music that exploited his abilities and those of his pupils to the full. There are many gems on this disc, but I must confess that I particularly enjoyed those with wind and especially with brass; something about those instruments drew something imposing and impressive from the composer and, in Cencic and Armonia Atenea (who really do play very beautifully under George Petrou), he has found great champions. If you are finding it difficult to cope to the early darkness now that the clocks have gone back, listen to “Se tu la reggi al volo” from Ezio and feel your energy levels rise!

Brian Clark