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What is the collective noun for countertenors? Perhaps a few decades ago people may have suggested a ‘hoot’, but times, taste and technique have moved on, and ‘flourish’ now seems more appropriate. Decca has avoided the question by calling its new CD The Five Countertenors. If you feel this smacks of popularism (some of us are still recovering from The Irish Tenors), please don’t let it deter you as the disc is full of treats. There is the obvious opportunity to compare differing performers in the same vocal register, and also the chance to hear music from composers such as Jommelli, Porpora and Myslivecˇek, increasingly recorded, but still hardly mainstream.

The conductor George Petrou leads a highly spirited performance from his Athens- based Armonia Atenea. First countertenor up is the fluent Valer Sabadus, followed by the lower tessitura of Xavier Sabata, the spicier tones of Max Emanuel Cencic, the bravura Yuruy Mynenko and the sweeter Vince Yi. With two arias apiece, all five are excellent and despatch their technical challenges with aplomb – this is a feast of coloratura. Every listener will have their own taste, but for me the standout performer of the five is Sabadus.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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