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Briefly Noted: Von Otter's Baroque Dream

available at Amazon
Sogno barocco, A. S. von Otter, S. Piau, S. Sundberg, Ensemble Cappella Mediterranea, L. García Alarcón

(released on August 28, 2012)
Naïve V 5286 | 71'
Anne Sofie von Otter is a versatile singer. She was an asset to an otherwise mixed performance of Mahler's third symphony with the National Symphony Orchestra earlier this month. She returns to Washington this evening in an entirely different repertory, lute songs and Baroque pieces with Thomas Dunford and Jonathan Cohen, at the Library of Congress (November 17, 8 pm). This is the same selection of music she has performed earlier this week, at the Frick Collection and in Philadelphia. Apart from an ill-advised set of songs by Simon and Garfunkel, it will hopefully have an effect similar to that heard from Iestyn Davies when he partnered with Thomas Dunford last year.

By way of introduction, revisiting von Otter's rather lovely recital disc of Baroque duets and solos with Ensemble Cappella Mediterranea is a listening pleasure. Von Otter has previous credentials in Monteverdi, and here she has three exquisite duets with the equally delectable soprano Sandrine Piau, two from Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea and one from Cavalli's La Calisto. The famous duet from the former, Pur ti miro, is almost certainly not originally by Monteverdi, but this is a rendition to be treasured. Von Otter is also beautifully matched with contralto Susanna Sundberg in another Monteverdi duet, "Di miseria regina" from Il ritorno d'Ulisse. Von Otter has the musicality and care with diction to hold interest in the long recitative solos by Cavalli and Luigi Rossi. On the instrumental side, Leonardo García Alarcón's forces are all in top form, with especially gorgeous work by Gustavo Gargiulo.

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