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Like most 18th-century Italian opera composers, Niccolò Jommelli supplemented his work for the theatre with the more intimate dramatic form of the chamber cantata, often in considerable numbers. In the case of Jommelli, however, only around a dozen such works survive, of which the four included on the present CD follow the usual form of alternating recitative and aria or the converse. A particular feature is the extensive use of dramatic accompagnato. This is especially effectively employed in the long central recitative of Didone abbandonata, a highly flexible movement that includes both types of recitative and arioso, a reminder that Jommelli played an important role in the reform of opera.

Cuban-born soprano Yetzabel Arias Fernández brings to these fine works a voice that combines tonal purity with velvety Latin warmth. Her technique comfortably engages with the occasional modest coloratura demands, although she has no trill and wide leaps can at times result in explosive top notes. There is a tendency in legato passages to approach from very slightly below the note, which here works quite effectively as an expressive device. All in all, this is a thoroughly engaging issue, its attractions enhanced by stylish, unobtrusive support from Stile Galante. Full text and English translations are given in the accompanying booklet.

Brian Robins Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing