on 28 February 2014
Few musicians perform equally well live and in studio. Max Emanuel Cencic is an exception for he does not seem to differentiate between the theatre and the recording studio: in this album, his singing throughout is as animated and heartfelt as if given live. The selections brim with excitement from beginning to end, the pensive arias approached as fervidly as the more obviously impressive coloratura numbers, some thing that is not easily achieved in an album of this genre.
The opening aria is from Hasse's 1734 Dresden oratorio Il cantico de' tre fanciulli, a setting of the Biblical story of the fiery furnace. Track 1 `Notte amica, oblio de' mali' is an aria of Misaele (Meshach). In the oratorio, the rapt religious fervor of this aria had a significant impact on the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar, and Cencic's fervent rendition of the piece makes a similar impact on his listeners. On the other hand, in pieces like `Solca il mar e nel periglio' from Tigrane, Cencic performs the tumultuous disquiet of the sea in immaculately-phrased coloratura, the piquant edge on the voice clutching the music from the first note and not letting go until every passion has been wrung from the text.
Technically, Cencic's breath control is exceptional. Interpretation wise, Cencic towers over most interpreters of this repertory in his uncanny ability to create even in performances of arias removed from their contexts' microcosms of palpable sensitivity. His treatment of da capo parts of the arias is nothing less than spectacularly contrasting, and his cadenzas are stylishly done. More importantly, he treats ornamentation with absolute good taste, showing up the sensitivity as well as evocative aspects that best suit the texts in their rightful contexts, deploying deftly-maneuvered trills where required. Of the current crop of top counter-tenors, Cencic demonstrates a wide range of vocal expressiveness that reaches out to flamboyant showmanship as well as lyrical tenderness. Never lacking in musical imagination, the rhythmic thrusts are so well carried throughout the different pieces as to never allowing a single instance of flagging.
Cencic's sheer delight of singing overflows this album as the listeners move from track to track, moving his listeners to rapt attentiveness from beginning to end; no small feat for a solo vocal album of this nature.
For opera listeners reared on the likes of Flagstad, Nilsson, Callas and Sutherland, the countertenor voice may always be an acquired taste. Even so, Max Emanuel Cencic is a singer whom these great artists of the past would undoubtedly recognize as a peer.
Singing apart, as a sort of interlude to Cencic's brilliant vocal recital, with mandolin player Theodoros Kitsos, Armonia Atenea and Maestro Petrou give a chic account of Hasse's Mandolin Concerto in G major, a work that owes as much to the influence of Händel's Organ Concerti as to Vivaldi's music for mandolin.
on 18 July 2014
Hasse's music is full of power ,character, pace and melody and Max Cenic does it justice in spades. his voice is powerful and dramatic bringing a richness and range which the music requires. I would love to hear him to produce a recording of the whole of haase's opera L'Olimpiade as these two tracks are my favourite ones on this album.