For today’s audiences, Vivaldi’s name exemplifies Venetian opera in the early 18th century – but he was not the only composer to shape the distinctive musical aesthetic of the great trading city known as La Serenissima. In this release of arias by Vivaldi and his contemporaries, countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic further explores Venice’s contribution to world’s rich store of Baroque opera. Cencic recreates the Venetian ambiance with the support of Italian violinist/conductor Riccardo Minasi and his ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro.
Cencic assembled a richly varied program of arias with a number of exquisite rarities. Vivaldi is represented by several pieces, while other composers include the Venetians Albinoni, Caldara and Porta and two composers born elsewhere in Italy, but who became closely associated with Venice: Gasparini (born in Lucca), who employed Vivaldi at the Ospedale della Pietà and who became something of a mentor to him, and Giacomelli (born in Piacenza), whose style was very close to Vivaldi’s; his touching aria ‘Sposa, non mi conosci’ was ‘borrowed’ and transformed by Vivaldi into the celebrated ‘Sposa, son disprezzata’ from Bajazet.
Along with a fascinating exploration of the cross-currents of Venetian Baroque style, Cencic offers both virtuoso fireworks and gentle lyricism, both ignited by the spark of spontaneity.