Agostino Steffani is a remarkable historical figure, diplomat, man of letters and no mean composer. I hear his opera Tassilone in Berkeley in the 1970s and recorded it off the air (yes, we used to do such things in those days) and absolutely loved it. I listened to it for many years on the cassette tapes, until eventually the sound quality was such that I threw them away. Such great music, I thought, it won't be long before someone records it properly. How wrong I was. Nearly forty years later and at last we have a recording of some arias and a few instrumental numbers modestly recorded by an Italian ealry music group unknown to me and tenor Alessio Nicolavcich Gioitti. The quality of the music remains remarkable but this is hardly a professional performance one would hope for. Giotti has a timbre reminiscent of the great Monteverdi tenor Nigel Rogers and has a fair stab at the coloratura parts of the arias, but his intonation is suspect and his voice becomes a little tiring in number after number with little variation (and scarcely any recitative). The orchestra is hardly better. All the same, we owe a big thanks to these honest musicians for at least giving us a recording of some great music that prefigures Handel (and, in my view, is at least the equal of most French operas composed at the time).
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