I actually thought I knew my composers reasonably well, even more obscure ones, but Cavalli was new to me. I’m probably not the only one, this is one of the composers that was known only to early music
So I was a bit surprised to see two new recordings on this Venetian composer coming out at pretty much the same time, Mariana Flores Heroines of the Venetian Baroque (which good excellent reviews in the French press by the way), and also from Christina Pluhar’s early music ensemble Arpeggiata.
Cavalli was a singer and Monteverdi protégée who later started writing his own operas. At his time, he was famous enough tube noticed by Louis XIV’s Cardinal Mazarin to play his operas at the wedding of the Sun King. (That’s probably relatively speaking even better than being invited to play at Kimye’s wedding these days. But I digress.)
L’amore innamorato (Erato 2015)
Christina Pluhar’s ensemble L’Arpeggiata has released some great albums, although the recent ones, especially the “jazzy” Purcell, were reviewed rather controversially.
I haven’t yet seen any reviews on this new Cavalli album, but I think this will be less controversial, as was their initial Monteverdi Teatro d’Amore album from 2009.
It is basically a lot of fun. The beautiful voice of the Spanish soprano Nuria Rial (helped by Hana Blažíková) is a big part of the fun, but Pluhar’s early music ensemble really is playing with a lot of dedication here.
The program is a best-of of Cavalli’s operas (apparently he wrote at least 24), and this is probably a good thing, as following a full early baroque opera seria can sometimes be a bit tedious.
No boredom here, this is thoroughly enjoyable. I suggest you check it out! I’ve added a Youtube sample below.
My rating: 4 stars
UPDATE November 22: Alexandra Coghlan reviewed this album on Sinfinimusic and gave it 5 stars.