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In this disc, soprano Deirdre Moynihan and her Ensemble Nota Velata present five cantatas by Antonio Vivaldi. The cantatas are settings of Italian poetry by unknown writers for singer and small accompanying group, composed in the Neapolitan manner of alternating da capa aria and recitative. Two, All’ombra d’un bel faggio and Lungi dal vago volto, are known to have been composed by Vivaldi during his time at the court of Prince Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt in Mantua. All’ombra d’un bel faggio is the story of a melancholy shepherd, Thyrsis, who wanders into a meadow and falls in love with Eurilla, a beautiful shepherdess. All of the cantata texts take place in an Arcadian fantasy world, perhaps inspired by the same Lombardy countryside around Mantua that Vivaldi probably drew on for The Four Seasons.

Moynihan and the Ensemble Nota Velata perform these cantatas with poise and energy, though occasionally the tempi are a little slow. Cupido, tu vedi from the cantata Che giova il sospirar, loses momentum after the introduction, and Moynihan’s voice, while bright in the upper register, is occasionally breathy in her lower range. There are other issues including recording quality, but this CD remains a notable performance of some of Vivaldi’s courtly cantatas.

Nicholas Bown Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing