"...fame is the only commodity which can make him happy, but one must first die in order to attain it." The booklet opens with words from the pen of the famed librettist Metastasio, written one year after his collaborator Leonardo Vinci had died prematurely in his 40th year, poisoned so it was said by a jealous husband whose wife had been the subject of Vinci's attentions. "Poor Vinci! Now he's finally receiving the recognition for his merits so longed for during his lifetime."
Vinci along with competitors such as Porpora was a central figure in the development of the stile galante, and influenced the likes of Hasse and Pergolesi and even Handel and Vivaldi. Works by Vinci are slowly being rediscovered by listeners today, perhaps most notably with the recent outstanding set Artaserse, but there have also been a few discs featuring cantatas and arias.
Here there is a selection of arias from seven operas, two oratorios and a serenata composed between 1724 and 1729. There's a certain level of hit and miss with these pieces it has to be said. "Sotto il peso tra sassi cadendo" taken from the "Oratorio di maria dolorata" is intended to express the grief and pain of Mary on Christ's suffering, but fails to convey the requisite emotions. Most of the works pass the test however, and there are some truly gorgeous arias such as "Nella foresta" from the opera 1728 Medo, and "Ti calpesto, oh crudo Amore" from Astianatte of 1725.
Countertenor Filippo Mineccia is completely new to me. He is certainly more than competent but I'm not sure whether his voice is a little underpowered or whether he is being slightly submerged by the music in the recording mix, and the instrumentation also comes across as a bit enclosed rather than expansive. There seems to be a good level of bass, more than one usually hears, which may also be taking the edge off the alto voice. I have needed to up the volume a little more than I would like to try to attain a proper appreciation of Mineccia's voice. From the recording viewpoint he probably hasn't been provided with the greatest opportunity to showcase himself, and the jury will perhaps remain out for the time being as to where he will be ranked in the hierarchy of countertenors.
These criticisms aside, it's a welcome set, and hopefully will help create an impetus for more of Vinci's compositions to be recorded. The booklet provides a reasonable set of notes, plus libretti and translations.