I have been listening to a lot of German art songs the past week or so, and while I likes me some Lieder (though I can imagine versions of hell that involve “Heidenröslein”), as I listened to this Vivaldi recording from Roberta Invernizzi, I remembered once again why I enjoy baroque opera so much.
I was listening to the seventh track on this, “ombre vane, ingiusti orrori” / “empty shades, iniquitous horrors” when it occurred to me that I had heard this “ingiusti orrori” business before, but the last time it had ingiustied itself past my eardrums significantly faster. Turns out I was right. In my music collection, it is on a CD of Vivaldi arias by Emma Kirkby and The Brandenburg Concert. Kirkby’s version is a minute and a half shorter than Invernizzi’s, and it is different in other ways too. Kirkby sails through the aria with her characteristic ease and decorum. The performance gives a sense of the lovely bright spaciousness at the top part of her voice. (And the Brandenburg Concert, under Roy Goodman, offer some snappy orchestral playing from the violins at the beginning of the aria’s B section.) The thing has a feeling of stateliness. Invernizzi, in contrast, takes it considerably slower. The orchestral introduction is fantastic – they just sort of slowly – lean – into it. You hear the interplay of the lute and harpsichord and then there’s this sort of swell just as the vocal part begins. Invernizzi’s interpretation is of a piece with this orchestral playing; it sounds like you could drop it right into an opera house and we would be at the edge of our seats. The combination of precision and drama she brings to this aria is characteristic of the whole recording – the music is performed with an expressiveness and style that’s hard to resist.
This, by the way, is the same orchestra that was on the recording mentioned here. They are called La Risonanza. High five, La Risonanza! (And also high five to the director, Fabio Bonizzoni, too, of course.) Other orchestral highlights for me were the bounce and energy of “Rette, lacci e strali adopta,” the lute, viol and violin in “Se garrisce la rondinella” / “when the swallow is twittering” and the unaccompanied strings in “Tu dormi in tante pene.”
The other bit of this that I have heard before and that I remember is “da due venti” from Ercole sul Termodonte. The version I have heard before is on the recent recording with Rolando Villazón, Rolando Villazón’s Rolex, etc., and there the aria is sung by Joyce DiDonato, and if my ears do not deceive me, it’s in a key that moves it down a little in terms of pitch. I was thinking just about style, rather than details of interpretation, and it seems to me that there is a resemblance between the way both DiDonato and Invernizzi attack this material that is distinctly different from the way Kirkby sang Vivaldi. It might be just different musical personalities; it might be generational. But the former two both tend toward interpretations that take up more space in terms of drama (and with JDD, in terms of sheer sound too). On the other hand, Invernizzi has a really lovely bright ringing sound to her voice in the upper register – I bet it’s a real thrill in a concert hall – that reminds me of what I like about Kirkby.
I hear that Invernizzi also has a Handel recording out there somewhere . . .