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Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli and cellist Sol Gabetta have combined their considerable talents in a new album of baroque duets. Never judge a CD by its cover: in this case a curious photo of the two women in cocktail dresses on bicycles. Anyone expecting some jolly Neapolitan romps will be disappointed by the seriousness that lies within: among these virtuoso baroque duets are world premiere recordings of two pieces by Caldara and one by Porpora. Bartoli is on her best vocal behaviour, so need to fear any machine-gun coloratura; just enjoy the smooth vocal line. In fact the selection could do with an injection of something to offer a bit more contrast and pep – qualities eventually found in Gabetta’s Boccherini concerto that closes the album. Meanwhile relish some beautifully expressive work from both performers, the aria by Gabrieli from the oratorio San Sigismondo being particularly moving, with its echoes or ‘sighs’.

FRANCIS MUZZU Read the full review on Agora Classica

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