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Cecilia Bartoli’s latest project throws a spotlight onto the long-neglected composer Agostino Steffani (1654-1728), whose parallel careers as priest, diplomat and spy seem to have distracted attention from his music: even the disc’s lavish 172-page hardback booklet says little about Steffani’s operas and nothing about the particular arias Bartoli sings, 21 of which are world premieres on CD. The music itself is startlingly good— Steffani clearly had a huge impact on Handel—and is magnificently performed here by Bartoli, in thrillingly bravura voice, with I Barocchisti. There’s a colourful array of arias, from rousing battle cries, with trumpet and percussion, to heartfelt, Strozzi- like laments, but it’s the lingering beauty of Steffani’s melodic lines that will hold you spellbound.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing