Cecilia Bartoli - The Vivaldi Album / Il Giardino Armonico

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Mezzo Cecilia Bartoli could easily rest on her laurels as one of today's most charismatic, characterful singers for her lively portrayals of Mozart and Rossini heroines. But it's been particularly exciting to observe her growth as an artist in exploring the exuberant world of baroque opera, with its range of pyrotechnic demands--both vocal and emotional. Bartoli's show-stopping virtuosity in a Vivaldi aria from her Live in Italy recital gave a tantalizing sample of her finesse in that style. For The Vivaldi Album, Bartoli conducted extensive research into the composer's manuscripts, (a documentary tracing her quest is planned for subsequent international screening). Although he's best known for his concertos--in typically baroque fashion, two of the arias in fact recycle material from The Four Seasons--Vivaldi was a ferociously prolific composer of operas for the cutting-edge theaters of his time, and the arias gathered here demonstrate the word-painting magic of his music, from the sylvan setting of dueting flageolets in "Di due rai languire costante" to the storm-tossed passions of "Anch'il mar par che sommerga," where Bartoli spins out ripples of rapid-fire coloratura with a gravity-defying accuracy that will leave your head spinning. In addition to many such examples of vocal acrobatics, Bartoli brings exquisite nuance and limpid tone to the delicate echo effects of "Zeffiretti, che sussurrate," and there's no better test for the remarkable flexibility of her range--full and dusky at the bottom and thrilling at the top--than the huge intervallic leaps of "Dopo un'orrida procella." With her naturally large voice, Bartoli can at times tend to histrionic excess (in the recitative to the short aria from "L'Orlando finto pazzo"), but the expressive color of her phrasing is wonderfully matched throughout by the Giardino Armonico's lively panache. All power to Bartoli in her goal of reviving this neglected aspect of Vivaldi's output. --Thomas May

Customer Reviews:

  • A new to me artist.
    I learned of this singer on Ovation TV.

    I like her style and technique. It was a good add to our collection....more info
  • Truly Deserving Grammy Winner
    Like all Bartoli fans, I was ready for some fairly remarkable things when first informed, more than two years ago, that the "Vivaldi" project was in the works. Cecilia's inspired treatment of "Agitata da due venti" on the "Live in Italy" album. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the journey in store on this CD. The familiarity, (thematically, at least) with the opening number,"Dell aura al sussurrar" only begins to open the door to vistas even dedicated Vivaldi lovers had never seen. Proceeding through the set, which, by the way, includes no fewer than SIX world premiere recordings, Cecilia stuns with the rapid-fire coloratura of "Sventurata navicella" and "Anch il par mar sommerga", brings her luscious, focused sound to "Zeffiretti che sussurate" and "Dite oime", and in between, brings to life songs which, while never achieving the poetic heights of those by some other composers, nonetheless provide a musical challenge which only a singer of Bartoli's particular talents (or perhaps someone like Natalie Dessay?) could surmount. Having had the good fortune to see her do most of this set live in Boston in October,2000, I find the comparisons between the live recital performance and this ablum inevitable but the recording, benefiting from the virtuosity of the musicians of Il Gardino Armonico, is more satisfying sonically. No one can match Cecilia Bartoli for sheer excitement on stage, her charisma is unmatched, but this CD is as close as one can get to actually being there for one of the most exciting performances in recent memory....more info
  • Passionate and Lively
    Cecilia Bartoli is absolutely my favorite and this aria collection simply must be heard to be believed. It is that good. Bartoli's renditions on this CD are brilliant...even for Bartoli. Even if she had never recorded another thing, before or after The Vivaldi Album, this would be enough to assure her of lasting fame, and rightly so.

    Bartoli takes us through the most incredibly florid passages with grace, authority and vocal perfection. Her voice exhibits a passion that mezzos usually reserve for Amneris and Eboli. She is unbelievably precise when singing phrases like, "Andero, volero, gridero," from L'Orlando finto pazzo.

    It was Bartoli, herself, who researched the material for this CD in Turin's National Library, according to the notes. Six of the arias have been unrecorded until now, and all thirteen in this collection are undeniably fascinating and some of the best Bartoli has ever done. Although a gorgeous mezzo, she negotiates stunning coloratura showpieces ("Anch'il mar par che sommerga," from Bajazet) with absolute precision and abandonment and places them next to charming pastoral arias and melancholy airs. Vivaldi, who treated the voice as though it were a violin, wrote passages that can be incredibly difficult to sing, but Bartoli accomplishes all wish ease. Two of the arias included, "Dell'aura al sussurrar," from Dorilla in Tempe and "Gelido in ogni vena," from Farnace, share material with The Four Seasons (the first movements of "Spring" and "Winter."

    Although Bartoli's vocals captures the spotlight on this CD, the instrumentals cannot be overlooked. The horns in "Dopo un'orrida procella," from Griselda are wonderful and make a lovely contrast to the flageolets in "Di due rai languir costante."

    Il Giardina Armonico is the perfect ensemble to accompany the perfect Bartoli. They seem to be composed of nothing but virtuosos and are as enjoyable and brilliant as Bartoli, herself.

    Bartoli should be congratulated for her research and for her use of her supreme star status in bringing this CD to life. She could have more easily recorded a CD of well-known and well-loved material, but, as always, Bartoli chose the artistic, rather than the easy, way. In doing so, she enriched both herself and us as well....more info

  • Everyone likes it
    This has been a successful commercial release. What has happened is that Bartoli has recorded a number of Vivaldi arias that have not formed part of the popular repertoire. She also filmed a television documentary that was based on her singing this obscure but interesting material. The documentary in retrospect was probably a good promotional vehicle. The CD itself comes in a small book which contains material on Vivaldi and Bartoli with lots of illustrations. It is an attractive package, and I note that Bartoli has repeated it with the recent release of a number of obscure arias by Gluck.

    The first two arias on this CD are the standouts. The first is Dell aura al sussurrar which used a tune from spring one of the four seasons. The second is an aria written for a castrato Dopo un orrida procella which has an accompaniment of two french horns and has a driving pace and is a great test of any voice.

    Over all it is an enjoyable CD and it recovers a style of music which although not lost has not been part of the mainstream. Even my mother and sister like it....more info

  • Cecilia's best
    What a sensational recital! I'm sure in 30 years this cd will be remembered as one of Bartoli's best. The playing of Il Giardino Armonico is also to die for, full of fantasy and passion. In this Era when record companies want us to believe that Jose Cura is a tenor, and Cheryl Studer the second Callas, what a joy is to have Cecilia Bartoli....more info
  • She makes the most of her voice
    Bartoly does not have an unique voice. But what she does have is a whole lot of artistry, and that makes her world class. What I do miss in her mezzo soprano is the deeper sound in classic mezzos like Simionato or Troyanos, or even Berganza. Maybe she should register as a soprano instead. I got this one as a gift, so I can't return it. The singing is good, but the program is a total bore, thus, even with a big stat such as Bartoly, it's only four star....more info
  • Next to Callas she sounds weak
    Bartoly's coloratura is not defined like Maria Callas's. She does have a good voice, but nothing extraordinary....more info
  • A Revelation
    I was amazed with this album of super fine music. I had known all my life that Vivaldi wrote tons of operas, but finding them, or the scores of them, was nearly impossible. In time I found a few, and was I ever amazed and disappointed. The published scores that were available were what was common practice of that time: there were the vocal lines and a figured bass and nothing more. There were no indications of orchestration. Even with that little bit, I was shocked with the intensity and complexity of this vocal writing. This man knew how to write for the voice. Until singers are willing to research his works, we, the public, will know him for a very orchestra suites and nothing more. The result will be a very stilted view of what the man had to offer.

    Now getting to the performance by Bartoli. She really loves this music, as you can tell. Yes, she is mannered in some of the things she does, but that is her way of seeing the music. Her technical skills are amazing, and her interpretations (the "drama" behind the music) is just as intense. Some think Bartoli has a strong voice. Actually, her voice is very small, if you have heard her in performance (they weren't even sure she would be heard when she sang at the Met), and it has a very delicate quality, even when being "brash." Recordings give you the impression she has a much larger sound than she does, but that is because small voices record truer and better than large ones (the industry still can't capture large voices at all). However, even with a small voice, in performance she is breathtaking. She makes the music live. She has weird mannerisms one sees that to American trained singers are completely unacceptable (weird facial expressions, strange things done with he mouth and teeth, head bobbing, etc), but that has never distracted from her overall intensity. Yes, she is intense. You are literally taken away with her interpretation, and her skills. Interestingly, she is more famous in music circles for her cancelations (she cancels more performances in a year than she actually sings). I love this recording, not only because of the music, but because I have seen her sing some of this music live. She really LIVES what she sings, and that comes across in this recording.

    A special note: in the little booklet that comes with the recording, Bartoli herself writes her impressions of this music. It is extremely insightful. Whether you like her or not, you have to admire the work she has done to make this music live and be as authentic in interpretation as she can. It is her love of this music that has caused her to record this album. I am thankful she did, for now, I can take those old scores I have and get a better understanding of what the composer was doing. Would that more singers would explore new/old works, and I think it would be far more interesting to have them write their impressions of the music they are singing than the standard academic essays we must read. Reading about how she came to this music, in her own words, gave a different dimension to listening. Now I was listening to see if she was successful in communicating what she felt this music had to offer. SHE WAS....more info

  • Pure and hot-blooded Italian beauty and joy!
    The ensemble is Italian, the singer Italian, and the composer Italian! What a blessing this CD is! It's so purely and perfectly Italian. The most important thing, however, is that the singer, the ensemble, and the composer Vivaldi are totally in one in their temperament, spirit, and style. Bartoli is known for her intensity, fantasy, imagination, virtuosity, total sense of joy, and directness. So is the beautiful and exciting ensemble! Vivaldi, too, is made of these attributes, both in his virtuosic violin performance and in his music.

    In this recording, composer and performers are in one. The execution is beyond mere perfection. The performance is inspired, the music relived, and it opens the world of early 18th century Venice in front of our eyes!

    The best entertainment you'll have! The more you listen to it, the more beautiful, magical, awe-inspiring it becomes and the more you'll wonder!

    Personally I think the 6th track is the most beautiful, sensuous and the most Vivaldian. Its dark, exotic , and mesmerizing harmonies and melodic turns are beyond description. That's something only Vivaldi could do and something that can only be found in his music.

    The 2nd track, is great fun. The vocal writing is so delightful and exciting!

    The last track is very crowd-pleasing and I love it! In this martial aria, we can almost hear the cheer of the audience when the singer finishes that sensational trill! It makes the audience crazy!

    This is definitely one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) recording of Vivaldi's music. If this CD cannot make people interested in Vivaldi, nothing will....more info

  • cecilias the one!
    i also have this album and i saw her doing this album in concert she is so amazing, bartoli fans, this album is for you.

    my 2 favorites are di due rai
    di trombe guirrere her trill at the end is AMAZING! she is like no other ...more info
  • A stunning Bartoli success
    Bartoli has had many successes in recordings, esepcially her performances of Rossini and Mozart. Now, in the tradition of Richard Bonynge and Joan Sutherland and their collaborative revivals of neglected bel-canto masterpieces, Bartoli has uncovered long-forgotten Vivaldi material and perfoms it with brilliant vocal technique and incisive interpretation. She has never sounded better. She is one of the most gifted singers working today -- certainly at the top of the current "mezzo boom" -- and she has the ambition and intelligence to research and sing rare material like Vivaldi. And Bartoli is only thirty-three years old -- hopefully she has many years of singing ahead of her. Don't miss this one....more info
  • A thrillingly gorgeous collection
    I have waited a long time for this album to be recorded. This CD attests to Bartoli's true calling as a baroque artist par excellence. There's no one who can touch her in this arena. Bartoli evokes all the wonder 18th century audiences must have felt when listening to all the great virtuoso arias created during that period. All the tracks are thrilling, but numbers 10, 11, 12,and 13 are, for me, absolute standouts, and show why Bartoli is just indescribably the most brilliant mezzo ever. There aren't enough words to do her justice....more info
  • The art of singing, still with us
    Even if you disdain Vivaldi in the Stravinsky way, do yourself
    a favor, and get this record. Music hidden in some obscure
    library for centuries, brought to pulsating life by a minor
    voice, here used with passion and artistry reminding one of
    vocal artists of the past. An enriching experience for anyone
    enjoying the art of singing....more info
  • Truly exciting recital
    Five years ago I heard Bartoli live and was concerned that the voice was lightening up and the timbre becoming more of a soprano rather than a mezzo. All such fears are banished by this truly exceptional disc which brings a lot of great but forgotten music to most vivid life. My reservations are few - there is some bumpiness between registers and a chest voice which does not appear to relate to the rest of the voice. But what energy, attack, sensitivity and imagination are on offer here! The range of vocal colour is magnificent, her engagement total, her concern for the text always evident. Bartoli was always a fine singer - this disc puts her among the century's greats. And the orchestral contribution, though occasionally vehement, is athletic and supremely sensitive.

    The packaging, too, recalls the lavish presentation which seems to have died with the coming of CD....more info

  • The best work of Cecilia Bartoli
    This is simply the best work of Cecilia Bartoli. Her voice is a delicatessen and Il Giardino Armonico sounds very very well. I think that I don't need to say anymore. Simply: BUY IT!!...more info
  • Some wonderful singing AND playing
    First of all, Cecilia Bartoli must be congratulated for choosing the marvelous Giardino Armonico ensemble for this recital, after Fabio Biondi's La Europa Galante, they are the best current exponents of Vivaldi's music. Since they record for a different company, I am sure Bartoli had to move Heaven and Earth to make this record possible. Bravo Cecilia! The singing itself is sensational, if a little bit overdone here and there, but marvelous as a whole. Teresa Berganza had an even more unique voice, and Marilyn Horne had a better technique, but we are proud to have a great singer like Bartoli in the 90's....more info
  • Not my favourite Bartoli album, but good in many aspects
    This is not certainly an album that can not be put on as background music. It requires a great deal of listening and concentration, which is perhaps why I do not listen to it as often as I do my other Bartoli disks. However, it is a fine recording for the following reasons: * It does an excellent job of show casing Bartoli's vocalizing and interpretive technique. * Giovanni Antonini offers a very satisfactory foundation for Bartoli's ability. * In my opinion, this is teh best of Vivaldi. I find his material has a tedency of becoming tedious after a little bit of listening, and despite the fact that every song in this collection has an almost identical dimension, they are fast-paced and varied.

    That said, it is not entirely a 'pleasant' album. It is great more as a historical documentation of Vivaldi's creations (and Bartoli DOES render them beautifully---very often I listen to it merely for the beauty of her singing) than as a melodic compilation. The songs become somewhat identical after a few listens, but Bartoli brings something different to each of them (one can really tell that she is passionate about the material she's interpreting) so that they are, individually, excellent little vistas. However, as a collection, they are a little bit excessive and 'notey' (I know that sounds tacky, but I can't think of a better word right now!), which is the nature of the music, not a fault of the performers.

    I would thus not recommend buying this album if you are new to Vivaldi or have been known to find his music monotonous. If you want to hear some great artistry in Cecilia and in her musicians, or if you like Vivaldi, buy it for sure as it is phenomenal in that aspect....more info

  • Passion
    Cecilia Bartoli's passion for Vivaldi's work really stands out. I can't believe that the human voice can cover such a range with this intensity and rapidity. In addition to Cecilia's outstanding vocals, the musicians are wonderful. The period instruments add the 'icing on the cake'. Gratzi, Senorina Bartoli !...more info
  • An Absolute "MUST HAVE" !
    This album is an absolute revelation and demonstrate that Vivaldi was one of the greatest opera composer of his time. One needed an artist of the caliber of Cecilia Bartoli to show us the incredible variety of moods,colors and expressions displayed in this music as well as the amazing technical abilities required to master the difficulties of some of these extremely demanding arias. When you hear the track 2 or the magical track 9 it makes us long to hear more from these virtually unknown operas;in track 12 you can also see where Haendel started from. I do hope this album will lead the way and trigger a gold rush towards a full revival of this amazing side of Vivaldi's opus : When one thinks that he composed about 92 operas in his lifetime it is difficult to believe that we still know so little about them today.Let's thank Cecilia for opening the door of this fantastic treasure trove !...more info
  • Cecilia's Vivaldi knows no limits!
    Cecilia Bartoli brings to life Vivaldi!

    In "The Vivaldi Album," this dynamic, charismatic, and brilliant mezzo transforms Vivaldi like no other!

    What a performance! While many may feel that "The Four Seasons" is about the only thing recognizable of Vivaldi, Ms Bartoli takes the music and ascends to the highest levels. With the Arnold Schoenberg Choir and conducted by Giardino Armonico, she clearly posts her claim (and lives up to her reputation)as being the best mezzo around today. She notes on the CD liner page that her music is "...a fascinating journey of discovery, exploring...Vivaldi's operas...which have been ignored for far too long." She has succeeded with her efforts--and these efforts seem so effortless.

    She has triumped in New York with "Cinderella," among others and certainly has claimed a place in the modern world not only of opera and classical music but of "music for the masses," just as well. What a triumph! Bravissima!

    (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)...more info

  • Bartoli's strengths incomparably displayed
    Most reviews of this CD effectively end up as reviews of Bartoli. She has been deified and vilified. Taste is a wonderful thing.

    Personally, I enjoy this CD for the fascinating vocal technique. I've never heard any recording where a singer exhibited such technical skill. Bartoli goes from rapid-fire melisma to fully- controlled trilling and back with such ease that I'm still completely amazed after dozens of hearings. **IF** you are a Bartoli fan, and IF you like dazzling vocal gymnastics, don't pass this one up.

    The comparison of Bartoli to Callas is intriguing, and I welcome more details from that reviewer. To me, Callas' strengths were verismatic: dramatic strength, coloratura, and emotional verbal depiction. Bartoli's are more technical, and displayed in this CD with incomparable skill: vocal finesse, melismatic agility, and near flawless accuracy of pitch. It's a difficult comparison, but an interesting one, and I'd like to hear more comments.

    I'd also like more explanation from the reviewer who feels that Bartoli's vibrato is overpowering. I detect only a light, calm vibrato, within (to my ears) accepted Baroque technique; and that only occasionally, since her trills are so omnipresent. As dominating and controlled as her trills are, they do occasionally sound like vibrato, especially her Baroque-style (staccato) ones. If such trills are what that reviewer is referring to, I agree -- that aspect is quite excessive. But, accepted Baroque style allows an abundance of various types of ornamentation, and when you're the best at a particular aspect of any skill, you set the style. Would Dr. Naismith roll over in his grave watching Michael Jordan drive the lane? Perhaps. Would any fan of Jordan's care, however educated she/he may be in basketball history or technique? I doubt it.

    Another criticism -- breathiness. I might be persuaded to agree, except for the fact that I've never heard anyone else fire off such rapid melismas and trills with such control and accuracy. Perhaps diaphragmal control is taxed near the limit of human ability in a stunning technical singer such as this. I welcome contrasting comments from physiological/musical experts, and clarifying statements from those who sustain this criticism.

    Is Bartoli a mezzo or a soprano? I'm not sure, but I don't care. Mezzo wasn't really an option in the Baroque period. In this CD Bartoli displays passion to enforce the angry moments,tenderness to sadden the poignant moments; power for dramatic phrases, resonant smoothness for lyric phrases; brightness on high notes, depth on low notes. I seriously doubt these arias could be better performed by anyone. Yes, Bartoli's not a dramatic Carmen or a Tosca; but this CD contains no such arias. For the music she specializes in, I believe Bartoli can be -- and on this CD IS -- both.

    Oh, the music, orchestra, and recording quality are good, too......more info

  • Late arriving, but still worth the wait..
    I bought this disk mostly for the content - the opportunity to hear Vivaldi that wasn't The Four Seasons! Imagine how the first track made for a double take! Bartoli has a voice that would be worth listening to even if she was just reciting her shopping list. My advice to you is if you liked the music, seek out Emma Kirkby singing Vivaldi on her late 90's Hyperion disk. Ms Bartoli deserves at least two cheers for bringing this unjustly neglected repetoire to light. Perhaps a whole opera next time Cecelia? There are still quite a few unperformed Vivaldi works from which to choose......more info
  • Cecilia Bartoli brings Baroque music to life
    This album is so good that it has converted me to liking Vivaldi! I'm a fan of other Baroque composers such as Bach, Telemann, Couperin and Handel but had never really appreciated Vivaldi until I heard this album. Cecilia's technical experise and her intense interpretation makes this album a delight to listen to. She brings Vivaldi's arias to life as I've heard no other performer manage to do so. A brilliant album that I listen to again and again....more info
  • Mostly very nice - not very stylistic
    The selection of pieces on this album is very nice, and I have greatly enjoyed listening to it.

    I recommend it most for Bartoli fans and people who are not experts on early music. I think most people will find it beautiful; I felt the phrasings on some of the pieces (especially the faster ones) could have been somewhat more graceful, and the ornamentation could have been more elaborate.

    Cecilia Bartoli has a great artistic sense, which shows, but she is mainly a bel canto and Mozart singer, and that shows too.

    If you are interested in hearing Vivaldi operas more stylistically performed, Amazon has a number of other recordings. If you like Bartoli and you're looking for music to enjoy, this album is for you....more info


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