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Here’s a different angle on the recently unleashed explosion of Neapolitan Baroque: Farinelli not as star castrato but in his subsequent 20-year career as impresario in Spain (and lullaby-singer to the depressive Kings Philip and Ferdinand). Neapolitan? – yes, since that was where Farinelli (real name Carlo Broschi) imported his pals from: hence the familiar names of Porpora and Jommelli on this disc, plus less well-known ones like Tommaso Traetta and Nicola Conforto – and local boy José de Nebra. The disc’s selling-point is the Spanish inflection to the well-known idiom, as in a stampy fandango by Nebra and a jaunty dance by Francesco Corradini; there is a pleasing vivacity to everything, alongside Iberian rhythms and instrumentation. It never really gets beyond the piquant, however, though countertenor Bejun Mehta makes a couple of welcome appearances (including Porpora’s ‘Alto Giove’). Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado clearly feels strongly about this stuff and gets punctilious performances from Concerto Köln. I’m just not convinced much of it is more than background music – but it’s not hard to listen to.

Robert Thicknesse Read the full review on Agora Classica

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