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Xavier Sabata also lends his counterenor to some obscure composers with Catharsis , a CD devoted to Baroque arias that adhere to and illustrate an Aristotelian concept – specifically the idea of a hero reaching catharsis by having their hybris (arrogance or cruelty) punished by Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, to achieve a purer ethical state. Hence a selection of arias that depict characters at key moments in their personal development, an ultimate example here being Vivaldi’s ‘aria d’ombra’ (shadow aria) from a lost opera Siroe, which he then reused in Farnace: Farnace mistakenly realises he is guilty of infanticide and envisages his own lifeless shadow. Words and music blend elegantly, and Sabata finds just the perfect even tone for the aria. It’s a slight problem with the disc, interesting and accomplished though it is, that so many moments of introspection tend to blur into one. Ariosti, Torri, Conti, Orlandini and Sarro all get their moment in the sun and Sabata’s voice is as accomplished as ever, unfazed by any flourish thrown at him, and relishing his long-spun phrases. Georg Petrou conducts with passion, though sometimes brashly exaggerating dramatic effects to the point of ugliness.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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