Simone Kermes: Colori d'Amore Le Musiche Nove, Claudio Osele (cond) (Sony Classical)
The coloratura German soprano Simone Kermes is not known as the Queen of Baroque for nothing: here, her rich, agile voice takes us through a fascinating selection of Baroque arias by the likes of Scarlatti, Bononchini and Caldari. The era's characteristic brittle orchestration, decorous structures and highly controlled sentimentality are wonderfully portrayed here by the period music ensemble Le Musiche Nove, prompting visions of silk-clad ladies rapping their beaus' knuckles with their fans and exclaiming "fie!". As for Kermes, her tone, her control and her restrainedly theatrical delivery feel authentically Baroque. Highlights of the CD include the mournful, Pergolesi-like suspensions of Scarlatti's Cara Tomba, from Mitridate Eupatore and the vigorous recitative Qui Dove... and its subsequent aria Torbido irato e nero, also by Scarlatti, in which her breath control and vocal articulation are exceptional. In fact, while many of the arias feel familiar, even if they are not well known, Scarlatti's works dominate the album simply through their innate refinement and strength, a reminder of just why his work has endured where that of, say, Riccardo Broschi (incidentally the brother of the legendary castrato Farinelli) has been less celebrated.
* Gemma Champ
Also out in classical
Elina Garanca: Habanera Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai, Karel Mark Cichon (cond) (Deutsche Grammophon)
The Latvian mezzo soprano Elina Garanca made her name with an exceptional performance of Carmen, and here she takes on other roles with a gypsy theme, bringing her trademark flexibility to Candide, The Bohemian Girl and others.
Tchaikovsky, Liszt: First Piano Concertos Alice Sarah Ott, Munich Philharmonic, Thomas Hengelbrock (cond) (Deutsche Grammophon)
No mean feat for a 22-year-old, the German-Japanese Ott attacks the works with the style and the superb, sure technique for which she is becoming known - so important for performing Liszt.