Cecilia Bartoli has made the most marvelous of metamorphoses: she has evolved from a mere amazing singer, into an accomplished musicologist who happens to have a voice of gold.
The transformation is welcome for those fans who enjoyed her previous effort at resurrecting some of Vivaldi's more obscure works; she has accepted the verdict that classical listeners are happy to discover music with her rather than be spoon-fed the usual favourites, and it's that realisation that makes this second serving magical.
Those who enjoy the more coloratura aspects of Bartoli's voice will not be disappointed. As she matures, so does the voice, and her range would now be the envy of any soprano, never mind any other mezzo. The high Ds and E-flats are effortless and heavenly, and the control and accuracy over the whole of her range is exemplary as usual.
This album has something for both the more cerebral listener who enjoys a challenge, and for anyone who can appreciate a quality mezzo voice. The packaging alone is worth the price; it will be very surprising indeed if the included book does not prove to be award-winning, both for graphic design and useful educational content.
Overall, this recording is a must for all fans of early opera, and it only takes one or two listening sessions to get a feel for where Bartoli's next project, an album of esoteric arias originally intended for the castrato voice, will take us.