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Il Pianto e il Riso delle Quattro Stagioni
Frigato, Biscuola; Giordani, Borgioni. Venice Monteverdi Academy and Ensemble Lorenzo da Ponte, Zarpellon. Italian text only. Fra Bernardo 1503177 (2)
FROM THE LOVELY, LANGUID opening words, “Dalle cime dell’Alpi” (From the tops of the Alps), as Winter returns from the mountains to learn from the other seasons of the death of the Virgin Mary, this new recording makes a case for Marcello’s 1731 oratorio, Il Pianto e il Riso delle Quattro Stagioni. Fresh voices, attentive to text and to stylish phrasing, portray the siblings Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, supported by the lively playing of the Ensemble Lorenzo da Ponte and vigorous singing of the Venice Monteverdi Academy under the direction of Roberto Zarpellon.
These artists, all new to me, bring to life with command and expressivity Marcello’s two-part Italian-language oratorio for the Feast of Mary’s Assumption. The particularly sensual nature of the seasons’ texts in their nature imagery is attractive, as is the succession of arias linked by brief recitatives. With only string accompaniment, and showcasing each voice-part, this is a wonderful piece for advanced students or young performers with limited forces.
Rich-voiced contralto Elena Biscuola is a standout as Summer, bringing ripe sound and detailed musical command to each aria. Bass Mauro Borgioni is also commanding as Winter, and his artistic imagination fires a handsome, agile voice. Soprano Silvia Frigato sings with simple beauty and she gets the wonderful aria “Con viva triplicate” with its choral shouts of “E viva!” Tenor Raffaele Giordani needs more vocal refinement, but his manner is winning, especially in the rhythmically lively aria “Di frutti già maturi,” detailing the fruits enjoyed by Mary.
When the death of Mary is at last understood, part one concludes with the anguished and bitter chorus, “In sempiterne lacrime.” The music of part two is even more interesting than the expository part one, as each season expresses his personal connection with Mary, and claims the right to honor her exclusively. Mary is revered in a final reconciliation that brings together Autumn, “in which you were born”; Summer, “when you died”; Spring, “in which your birth was announced”; and Winter, “When you were conceived immaculately.” —Judith Malafronte
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