Vivaldi, New Discoveries, R. Basso, Modo Antiquo, F. M. Sardelli
(released on February 24, 2009)
Naïve OP 30480
To hear it for the first time, we have the striking voice of Romina Basso, heard and much appreciated in the recordings of Atenaide and in Alan Curtis's recording of Motezuma. The narrator of this text, stated in the first person, is an unnamed virgin martyr tortured by fire, wild animals, and armed men. The text does not seem to line up with the life of St. Justina, an early martyr whose remains are in the Basilica at Padua and who is one of that city's patrons, but the three types of suffering are more or less an exact match to the vita of St. Thecla, the disciple of St. Paul who according to her legend was saved from three types of pain and death (being burned at the stake, thrown to savage animals, and raped by a band of ruffians). St. Thecla died in Syria, but she is venerated in the Cathedral of Este, not too far from Padua, where it was widely believed she had saved the city from plague in the 17th century. Just a thought.
Basso's voice is a force of nature in its low range, although in a few of the faster passages of runs she is less than elegant. Other delights include a sonata now identified in two slightly different versions, one for recorder (RV 806) played with daring panache by Sardelli himself and the other for violin (or possibly oboe, RV 810). Basso also sings two other individual secular arias, whose association with a Vivaldi opera, if any, is still being determined. Other instrumental selections include a recently discovered concerto for the unusual solo combination of oboe and cello. Do not be put off by the creepy cover art (who thought that a man in heavy mascara, lipstick, and pencil mustache would sell Vivaldi?) -- this disc is a delightful collection of curiosities, if not an essential purchase, other than for Vivaldi completists, who are surely already "subscribed" to the Vivaldi Edition.