I didn't previously know Steffani, but I must tell that, even though it is not the kind of music I prefere above all, I greatly appreciated it. It is partly sad and intimate, but never boring; it is dramatic and passionate, full of rythm. The voice texture is really brilliant: how the different voices cross and leave, interwaeving each other, creates a vibrant space of resonance, perfect and out of time. The excellent balance of voices and instruments helps greatly to enjoy this aspect. Why so little known? Mystery... Now, I am really happy of knowing Steffani!
About the performances: excellent the director Fasolis (as I always found), very good the choir, Behle, and Vitale, but the true, magnificent plus of this disc is the presence of Cecilia Bartoli and Franco Fagioli toghether. Wow! Two voices so sublime, having such a taste and flavour that the sound obtains body and strenghth... Impossible not to loose myself when listening at them! Cecilia Bartoli often, IMHO, exceeds a little in her interpretation; in this disc she has this attitude in "Non plus me ligate", but here it is not annoying. Conversely, in Stabat Mater she sings with perfect measure and composure, so that her splendid voice rings out at her best. Franco Fagioli, well... He is the best countertenor at the moment, and I expect he will be for long time. Sometimes I have the rambling idea that countertenors are now so often used (and abused) not because their voices add to an opera, but because the public is simply teased by the ambiguity and forgive them much more than it would be possible to a female singer. But Franco Fagioli, no doubt, has such a magnificent and unique timbre that, when listening to him, nobody cares if he is female or male in falsetto voice: he is just so splendid that the listener's thoughts flee along with the music. And, moreover, he is also a real good interpreter. So, a little jewel, this disc: do not loose it!
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