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Never judge a CD by its cover. Philippe Jaroussky’s selection of Cavalli arias in his album Ombra Mai Fu puts this cliché to the test in all its hideous Photoshopped garishness. But what lies within is enjoyable, if not perhaps hugely up-do-date in its interpretation of the composer’s output. There is a tendency to swoop and swoon, perhaps not helped by the lack of conductor in the performances, where the countertenor is accompanied by the ensemble Artaserse, which he helped co-found. Perhaps a stronger musical hand might have sharpened the performance practice. But if, like me, you feel that Jaroussky has slightly gone off the boil recently, it is refreshing to hear him on good form and using a variety of colours beyond the fallback of blanched soulfulness, and interacting with his vocal partners; Emőke Baráth’s soprano entwines emotionally and Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s mezzo challenges with wit and spirit.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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