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Lava - Arie Di Bravura From 18th Century Napoli [CD]

Simone Kermes Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 15.77 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Simone Kermes - Soprano
The Leipzig-born Simone Kermes is one of the most sought after sopranos internationally for dramatic coloratura roles. Her remarkable vocal range predestines her particularly for the virtuoso works of baroque masters such as Handel and Vivaldi but also for Mozart's, Haydn`s and Beethoven`s sopranos and concert arias.
Simone Kermes was born in Leipzig and ... Read more in Amazon's Simone Kermes Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (7 Sep 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Sony Music
  • ASIN: B002E9HXM8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,518 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. L'Olimpiade
2. Lucio Papirio
3. Flavio Anicio Olibrio
4. Artaserse
5. Il Demetrio
6. Viriate
7. Adriano In Siria
8. Antigono
9. Artaserse
10. Lucio Papirio
11. Didone Abbandonata
12. L'Olimpiade
13. Tu Me Da Me Dividi
14. Morte Amara
15. Se Non Dovesse Il Pie'
16. Fra Cento Affanni E Cento
17. Manca Sollecita
18. Come Nave In Mezzo All'Onde
19. Lieto Cos? Talvolta
20. Perch? Se Tanti Siete
See all 24 tracks on this disc

Product Description

CD Description

LAVA is a collection of rediscovered opera gems from 18th century Naples, performed by soprano Simone Kermes and the period instrument ensemble Le Musiche Nove. Musical direction is by Claudio Osele, the Italian musicologist and conductor who worked with Cecilia Bartoli on four of her successful concept albums, including the Grammy-winning Vivaldi and Gluck releases for which he delivered the concept and prepared the performing editions. Naples and Versuvius provide the linking theme between all of the pieces, nine of which are world premiere recordings (all tracks except those by Pergolesi).

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent! 17 Sep 2010
Format:Audio CD
Simone Kermes is an outstanding baroque soprano for many reasons: her voice, her interpretations and her absolutely unique stage presence: elements which have lead many to raise their eyebrows in some respects, but one thing is for sure - Simone Kermes is one in a million! She is a true diva who can sing, even if a bit controversial sometimes. In my opinion, this is her best album: the music is amazing and her singing is at its best. A must-have for all those who love baroque music!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning voice and recording! 24 Mar 2010
Format:Audio CD
I have to strongly disagree with the previous reviewer that there are better recordings of this material. Yes, maybe this isn't a comprehensive list of composers of this period, but how could it ever be? This is a fabulous collection and the singing is superb, as always (I have all of Simone Kermes recordings to date). I do not claim to be an expert on the right kind of voice for this genre, but I know what I like and Kermes' voice is simply beautiful: pure, clear and without unnecessary vibrato, making it very suitable in my opinion for earlier music.

I have the Karina Gauvin recording of Porpora Arias, and although the orchestra and recording quality is excellent, she hits the notes perfectly, etc. I find her voice far less pleasing, almost harsh and demanding in comparison to Kermes. And too much vibrato as far as I'm concerned for this repertoire.

I would be very surprised if any lover of this genre could listen to track 2, Porpora's Morte Amara, and track 7, from Pergolesi's Adriano in Siria (amongst other gems on this disk) and not be moved to tears by the sheer beauty and emotion of Kermes voice (and the exquisite music itself of course!).

I would also highly recommend Kermes' Handel disk La Diva - Arias for Cuzzoni and her Vivaldi recordings, Amor Sacro and Vivaldi: Amor profano. All absolutely superb!
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Significant but not Definitive Recording 22 Feb 2010
Format:Audio CD
For anyone who has enjoyed Simone Kremes's survey of the cantatas of Joseph Martin Kraus Kraus - La Primavera - cantate per una Primadonna this survey of another rare repertoire should be an obvious purchase. However, it took me some time until I decided to do so, initially because of the retreat from the top-quality SACD surround sound in Kraus's to a standard CD here, but more importantly because of the appearance of some other alternatives notably those of Cecilia Bartoli Cecilia Bartoli ~ Sacrificium and Karina Gauvin Porpora Arias at roughly the same time. Therefore, despite a staggering 9 world premiers on this disc, any assessment of it will inevitably have an element of comparison in it. I am yet to listen to the latter alternative, but compared with the former, Kremes's take is lighter not just in terms of her softer and more restrained singing but also in the more chamber quality of the orchestra. More to my disappointment Nicola Porpora is not represented here by as beautiful arias of his as I had heard before. If you have a particular interest, however, in this repertoire you need not hesitate particularly bearing in mind the numerous world premiers. If you want a representative set only, though, you might want to consider other alternatives before going for this one.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a disc ! 11 Nov 2009
By Etrisi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Only by chance I discovered that outstanding CD by German soprano Simone Kermes (sometimes also called the "Leipzig Bartoli"). Kermes tackles a formidable coloratura cavalcade claiming nine world premiere recordings, ranging from rage arias such as Hasse's "Perche se tanti" to Popora's seductive "Morte amara". Extreme demands for range, colour and expression are accomplished in dazzling style. Former Bartoli advisor Claudio Osele employs light instrumental accompaniment with his excellent performing group "Le Musiche nove" - up to eight players - for this Vesuvian outpouring. For me Osele seems to have winkled out music of superior quality to Bartoli's selection "Sacrificium" that features music of the same period and many composers who can be heard also on Kermes' CD. A must buy !

"Listen" magazine writes in it's spring issue 2010:
Precisely why Simone Kermes is not better known in the United States is a mystery: she is probably the most intersting singer of music-before-1850 in the world. She seems incapable of doing anything by rote - each run, trill, bit of phrasing, attack on a high note and plunge into chest voice is decided by the aria and text she is singing. As a result she can come on a bit strong, but being incapable of blandness is a great gift and could almost be enough. The fact that she is also an incredicly accomplished singer with a sound that can enchant as well as terrify is what makes her truly great.
Nine of the twelve arias on this release are world premiere recordings and most are gems. She launches into the first - a rage aria by Pergolesi, sounding both crazy and like a Baroque violinist attacking a bow; a similar style is used in an aria from Vinci's Artaserse in which she uses a breathless, almost spoken approach to the text. It is hard to believe the same singer can enchant with an exquisite legato and long, gentle lines in Leonardo Leo's Il Demetrio. And for an entirely different experience, in a scene from Hasse's Viriate, she adds a cadenza near the close that runs from high E natural to the A two-and-a-half octaves below. Sometimes she uses vibrato, sometimes a pure white tone. Long-breathed phrases and notes held pianissimo are as beautiful as they are unexpected. She is a singer of extremes and not fort he staid, don't-surprise-me opera lover.
R.I.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More premiere sounds...! 18 Jan 2010
By KJS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
For its selection of 18th century `dramma per musica', this CD rates 5 stars. Of the 12 arias, 9 are world premiere recordings, composed by Pergolesi, Porpora, Vinci, Leo, and Hasse between 1722 and 1743. They are a much needed addition to the `all too few' discs containing examples of their operatic music; as of late, Cecilia Bartoli's "Sacrificium" with 11 world premiere recordings, Karina Gauvin's "Porpora Arias" with 6 premieres from its 14 arias, and Vivica Genaux's "Arias--Handel and Hasse," which includes arias from Hasse's opera "Arminio," and the cantata "La Scusa". There are also examples of their music--alongside other fellow contemporaries--on albums such as Jaroussky's "Carestini, the story of a Castrato" and Genaux's "Arias for Farinelli", both of which I would highly recommend. Unfortunately, despite the current interest in and the wealth of Handel and Vivaldi operas being recorded, many opera works by Graun, Broschi, Leo, Vinci, Albinoni, Giacomelli to name a few, and Porpora and Hasse in particular, are yet to be premiered on recordings. Yes, there are cantatas, sacred works, and instrumental works to be found, but I can only think of Porpora's "Orlando", his oratorio "Il Gedeone," and Hasse's "Cleofide" and the late intermezzo "Piramo e Tisbe" being available (on Amazon). In this sense, compilations such as Simone Kerme's "Lava" are great tasters of the operas that--if all their scores are extant, and after full research and reconstruction--might finally come our way.

The arias on this CD were originally sung by the castrati Carestini, Salimbeni and `Caffarelli' (both taught by Porpora), plus prominent but lesser known castrati Mariano Nicolini detto `Marianino' and Angelo Monticelli, and prima donna Giovanna Astrua. Some singers are not attributed. Kermes does a fine job, but I would (humbly) give her singing 4 stars instead of 5. I'm no baroque specialist and don't have time to wax lyrical about the subtleties of voice and performance, but her albums "Arias for Cuzzoni" and "Amor Profano: Vivaldi Arias" see her, I feel, in stronger form. There are times her soprano singing seems too light and thin, and though her trademark top register is a pleasure to hear, her lower register does not, largely, have the depth and 'edge' required. This is more apparent on some arias than others... I was kept wanting more, to be touched more deeply. There are mezzo sopranos like Vivica Genaux or Jennifer Larmore amongst others, contraltos like Marie-Nicole Lemieux, or even a good countertenor that I would love to hear singing this repertoire. Personal taste aside, I agree with the previous reviewer that it's a worthwhile album to own.

Last time I went to youtube there were lots of official (Sony/harmonia mundi) videos of "Lava", so if you're after a taste of the music, and of Kermes sound, check it out.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Putting on the Agony, Putting on the Style .... 15 Feb 2011
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
... that's what all the singers were doing all the while," to paraphrase the American folk-poet Woody Guthrie. Baroque opera seria was devoted to the Agony of Love, and Baroque vocal technique was above all devoted to Style, to stylish displays of virtuosity, especially among sopranos, whether the singers were women, falsettists, or castrati. Technical display and emotional affect were, of course, not always readily compatible; only the finest Baroque operas integrated virtuosity and expression. It was a formalistic art, addressed to an audience of connoisseurs, and when that audience was broadened, musical values had to adapt. The 'fall from grace' of the castrati was less a result of social revulsion at a barbarous practice than of a shift in the aesthetic balance between musical and dramatic values.

Simone Kermes offers a 'clinic' in Baroque vocal virtuosity on this CD of arias from operas composed between 1722 and 1744, by composers loosely associated with the theaters of Naples, at that time the second-largest city of Europe and certainly a musical capital. The operas were not all premiered in Naples, however; first performances occurred also in Rome, Venice, and Dresden. The composers represented on this recording are Nicola Porpora, Giovanni Pergolesi, Leonardo Leo, and Leonardo Vinci -- all Italian, though three of them worked internationally -- and the renowned Johann Adolf Hasse, an 'Italian' by predilection and by marriage. The arias have been selected from nine different operas, seven of which have never been recorded before. Naturally, these are showcase, climatic arias, settings of texts expressing the most intense passions, sustained by the most picturesque and affective instrumental accompaniment. All twelve of the arias on this CD, to my ears at least, are superb examples of successful integration of vocal virtuosity and dramatic expression, of Agony and Style. If the operas from which they are taken are uniformly as excellent as these arias, one can ardently hope that they'll be staged and recorded in a opera house nearby, so that 21st C audiences can catch up with the aesthetics of 18th C opera patrons.

The expressive demands of these arias are huge. The texts range from outcries of rage and despair, Pergolesi's "tu me da me dividi" on track 1, for instance, to sighs of dreamy ecstasy, Pergolesi again, on track 12. Likewise the texts depict images ranging a storm at sea to the singing of a bird in a cage. Simone Kermes handles these demands with extraordinary flexibility, matching the timbre of her voice to the affect of the words phrase by phrase. She doesn't just sing everything prettily. She growls when a growl is needed, moans or snarls when a moan or snarl is wanted, and she soars beutifully when beauty is appropriate. Likewise her control of dynamics, especially her delicate piano passages and her fabulous "mesa di voce" (sustained notes that crescendo and decrescendo smoothly without changing timbre or pitch, and without vibrato) are all focused on affective declamation of the text. Every aria on this CD sounds like the voice of a different stage character at a different dramatic climax.

The technical vocal demands are even huger. Tuning, of course, is the sine qua non of music. Many lovely voices have faltered over tuning. Kermes's tuning is as flawless as humanly imaginable, across a range from her deliberately rough-edged masculine contralto to her 'flauto dolce' coloratura. To match her singing pitch for pitch, I'd need two instruments, the left-thumb notes of my Baroque bassoon for her lowest tessitura and my Venetian cornetto for her highest. It's not the goal of such dramatic vocal colorations to sound uniform in timbre across such a range, though I suspect Kermes could do so if she chose. In one aria, she descends from sky to earth, a leap of about two-and-a-half octaves, in a phrase of just four notes. Her breath control is olympic.

Fiery passagework and florid ornamentation are the 'elements of style' in the rhetoric of a Baroque aria, and once again Kermes offers a clinic, an encyclopedic 'survey', of the trills and frills of 18th C virtuosity. Best of all, her fancy-work isn't just standardized off-the-shelf decoration; every diminution and every mordent sounds the emotive unity of text and music.

I've almost exhausted my stock of superlatives, but I need to chant the praises of the period-instrument orchestra Le Musiche Nove and its conductor Claudio Osele. The same expressive flexibility that Simone Kermes achieves is matched by the instrumental ensemble, as each aria has its distinctive color and tempo. If you've ever thought that all the arias on a recital album sounded the same, you'll be gloriously surprised by this one, with its exciting variety from sparse, somber continuo to flamboyant counterpoint and athletic obbligatos by the oboes and flute. Osele is a musicologist as well as a conductor; his notes for this CD will appeal to both scholarly and popular taste, and the texts of the arias are included in Italian with English, French, and German translations. Osele himself prepared the critical editions and playing scores for this program. Bravo, maestro! Brava, signorina! Bravi, i musici!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historically interesting; vocally more controversial. 28 Jan 2010
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
A fine compilation of 'arias antique' this indeed is, with no less than 9 world premiere recordings.
Since the days the Italian mezzo Cecilia Bartoli started to dig out historical operatic works of Vivaldi in the early 1990's, there is currently a rather consistent trend to 'resurrect' those forgotten works of the baroque period.
All these are very good indeed, since listeners are being opened up to unknown repertoire that otherwise would not have been performed.
Having said that, as the reviewer above also rightly pointed out, in vocal terms, this album does leave room for desire.
Being a big fan of the baroque singing of Joan Sutherland who actually was the baroque pioneer in the mid-20th century, I hesitate to endorse the vocal style of 'the former Bartoli advisor Claudio Osele'. While in the relatively early stage of Bartoli's career she owned a rich dark timbre that would seem to effectively convey the feeling of a 'castrato' singing, I doubt if such is in fact the quality of castrato singers' timbre. But all in all, with the exception of a few of her recordings, Bartoli succeeds admirably in developing a vocal style that has come to be quite widely accepted as being 'baroque'.
What about Ms. Kermes in this album? Alas, I have to admit that my own clumsy ears just could not stand the unbeautiful sound made by her voice. The registers do not synchronise properly. The voice is thin; being pushed most, if not all, the time. The lower register sounds ugly with yelling more suited for rock'n roll.
Oh, yea, you may argue, Sting did made a very successful album on Dowland's songs. BUT Sting did not emply the style advocated by Signor Osele. He sings in his own style, and in very good taste, too.
So is Osele's style ungraceful? Not necessarily, though it definitely has very little to do with 'bel canto'. The lines are hurried and cramped, the voice dry and gritty, with little resonance that the human voice is capable of giving. The Sutherland style of beautiful baroque singing is not to be heard in Osele's. If the singer owns the right timbre, the adequate range, probably something along the line of a Cecilia Bartoli would surface.
As for the impression on Kermes's singing, it sounds awfully like a Cecilia Bartoli not at her best. The fast tempi unmusical; the slow ones unmoving.
One needs to put in 'listening efforts' to go beyond the second track, despite the burning curiosity to hear Porpora, da Vinci, Hasse et al's hitherto not heard of compositions.
For this album's harsh demands on the listener, only three stars.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The celebration of Neapolitan glory. 24 July 2011
By Anna Shlimovich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is one of the absolutely best recording of single arias by a solo singer. The blend of extraordinary abilities of La Kermes with phenomenally splendid music creates a masterpiece that delights the sense of hearing boundlessly.

It is astonishing how 18th century Neapolitan music conjures up in mind the very place where this music was created - a vibrant, sun-lit, sea-caressed bay of Naples, a land of pleasure since ancient times, with Imperial Roman villas surrounding the fabulous coast from Baja and Capo Miseno to Villa Jovis on Capri, with the specter of Tiberius entertaining himself lavishly, looking over the sea from Costiera Amalfitana to Posilippo; nearby that hill, whose beauty was extolled by all who laid an eye on Posilippo, from Glinka to Goethe, side by side with Cumaen Sybil living in her sulfurous cave, Solfatara fumes and smokes, whispering to Vesuvius trumpet. Today the place strikes a visitor with its beauty all the same, proudly displaying its royal wonders at Capodimonte, Palazzo Reale, Piazza del Plebiscito; Napoli's splendid architecture in Santa-Lucia, ancient and barocco treasures along Decumanus Inferiore, Virgil's Castlel dell'Ovo, Aragonese Castello Nuovo - so much there is, in Napoli, that it is impossible not to be overtaken by the never-ending eruption of vibrant nature and culture.

Naturally, the Bourbons had built a theater worthy of celebrating the glory of the city of "Cosi fan Tutte" - Teatro San Carlo. The Teatro was built earlier than La Scala, and was an envy of whole Europe.

It is during that time that arias presented on this recording were created; many of them were premiered in Teatro San Carlo. The whole Neapolitan school of music of 18th century can be sampled on this CD, with composers as Nicola Porpora, Giovanni Pergolesi, Leonardo Leo, Leonardo Vinci and Johann Adolf Hasse.
Their predecessor and the founder of Neapolitan tradition was Alessandro Scarlatti, and his influence could still be heard in works of Porpora, a major competitor of Handel later on in London. The music on this CD reflects this tremendous outpouring of artistic creation, truly a lava eruption of myriads of talents.

My favorite (although all of them are so excellent that it is hard to pick a favorite) is Pergolesi - I think his music is the most multi-layered and manages to play on soul's strings as nobody else's on this disk. Again we hear here that it is for a good reason Stravinsky esteemed Pergolesi so highly. The aria (n.7 on the CD) "Lieto cosi talvolta" from "Adriano in Siria" is simply superb compositionally; with Simone Kermes singing it attains a divine proportion - so mesmerizing is the beauty of this piece. One can dream of Adrian's villa in Tivoli, and imagine the story of this opera - probably the love from the first sight that Adrian was struck with when he first saw Antinous.

The next amazing piece is the breath-taking "Come nave..." by Hasse - there is also a recoding available on YouTube for this, Kermes is an incredible actress!

It is also noteworthy that most of the arias on this recording are on libretti by Pietro Metastasio, a major poet of that time, so famous and sought-after that he was summoned to Vienna where he ended his days and was buried in Michaelerkirche, right at the entrance to Hapsburg's Hofburg. For a non-Italian speaker it is impossible to fully appreciate the beauty of his poetry, but even with some knowledge of Italian one can notice the pleasant rhyming of his verses conducive of being put to music.

Recalling all that make one feel an urge to fly to Napoli speedily, immerse oneself into its beauty, marvel on the whole bay from Certosa San Martino or from Capodimonte, and finish the day in Teatro San Carlo. Years ago I had that pleasure, and luckily I filmed one baroque opera buffa in Teatro San Carlo - "Il Convitato di Pietra", an opera by Giacomo Tritto, a contemporary of the composers on this CD, but less famous, yet this opera on Don Giovanni and his servant Pulcinella (that is a distinct feature of Neapolitan opera buffa) was absolutely marvelous and hilarious, it was written BEFORE Mozart yet one can hear Mozart's Don Giovanni here! I include the YouTube link in comments section, even though Kermes's recording is concerned with opera seria.

I only wish that all the operas on this CD would eventually be staged on location, repeating their premier, be it Teatro San Carlo, which still survives from the original date, to Dresden or Teatro San Giovanni Chrisostomo in Venice, which today has become Teatro Malibran, with performances running regularly.

Brava, La Kermes, for bringing us this tremendous music!

She is really a singer capable to fill up a CD, no - dozens of CDs with her incredible talent, the voice that dazzles and dances, expressing every nuance through a combination of sheer beauty of the voice and virtuoso technique - her pianissimos, diminuendos, legato, leaps of tempi and volume, her amazing range - all is delivered with a complete vocal control. I hardly can recall any singer who can sounds as dazzling - perhaps Sandrine Piau, Arleen Auger, Sutherland in her best years...

Definitely Simone Kermes's phenomenal artistic impression is much closer to the fabled castrati who starred in their day, like Caffarelli, than any modern countertenors, like Jaroussky, whose technique is just as virtuosic, but the voice itself sounds dull when listened to for more than ten minutes; Jaroussky's live sound compared to CD-Kermes is like an iTune compared to live performance, and one can only imagine how Kermes's voice sounds live...

I bow to her in admiration; this recording is a must.
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