MARIA&MADDALENA - 2021
ORATORIOS ON TWO ARCHETYPAL WOMEN
On her second PENTATONE album Maria & Maddalena, star soprano
Francesca Aspromonte explores the Two Marys in oratorios by Lulier,
Bononcini, Leopoldo I d’Asburgo, Caldara, Perti, Handel and Scarlatti, partly
in new editions, documenting the extremely bloom of the genre in the years
around 1700. She performs these works together with violinist Boris
Begelman as well as the seasoned players of I Barocchisti under the baton of
the eminent Diego Fasolis. Traditionally seen as two feminine opposites, with
far-reaching moral implications, Aspromonte brings the Virgin Mary and
Mary Magdalene together as two beautiful and strong women who turned
their lives upside down by making the choice to dedicate themselves
completely to an ideal. Her interpretation of these exceptional pieces
explores all the emotions of the Two Marys, constituting a fascinating and
profoundly moving portrait of what it means to be a woman.
"...Interpreting the Virgin means to experience at the same time the immeasurable joy of motherhood and the excruciating pain of her Son's foreboding death, with a lump in the throat and a broken voice; to sing Magdalene is to feel the tremor, the ecstasy of the soul that wants to free itself from the chains of sin even through suffering, in the joyful certainty of reaching a higher pleasure.
To be both is to be a woman who writes her own destiny accepting the consequences, living all the emotions without repentance, without regrets, with pride. To be both is a teardrop of freedom.” Francesca Aspromonte
"...Imaginatively planned, brilliantly executed, this is a disc guaranteed to give pleasure to any lover of the Italian Baroque with a sense of adventure."
Richard Wigmore - Gramophone
"...La interpretación de Francesca Aspromonte es absolutamente arrebatadora en todos los sentidos, tanto técnicos como teatrales. La emoción que transmite la versátil soprano italiana traspasa los micrófonos y recorre de inmediato la sensibilidad del oyente, ayudada por su inmaculada dicción italiana y su bello timbre..."
"...With right flow, much ease in the ornamented passages, direct attack, wonderful legato, exemplary articulation and balanced vocal delivery, she is also able to sing the arias quite idiomatically and musically expressively. This creates warm-hearted portraits of the two Maria characters"
PROLOGUE - 2018
THE OPERA BEFORE THE OPERA
The prologue is a unique feature of early baroque opera: an opening scene where an allegorical figure enters the stage to prepare the audience for the musical drama to come. Thus Prologue is the musical introduction of Italian star soprano Francesca Aspromonte and her exclusive, long term engagement with Pentatone, promising great joy as well as drama in the years to come.
Prologue is a highly original album consisting of several prologues from early-baroque operas by Monteverdi, Caccini, Cavalli, Landi, Rossi, Cesti, Stradella and Scarlatti. Strung together, they form a representation in a single act, a theatre full of small, complete dramas: the opera before the opera.
Francesca Aspromonte is quickly establishing herself as a shining star in the Baroque firmament. She has curated this album together with musical director Enrico Onofri, who leads il pomo d’oro, one of the most important and successful period ensembles of today.
"Aspromonte’s diamantine timbre, rich, expressive palette and outstanding care for words make her an ideal mistress of ceremonies."
The Sunday Times
"...While the bright and silvery tones of her upper register are prominent features, there is also much expressive use of darker and warmer tones in these fluid and flexible accounts, packed with sensitive detail, and alive to the essential unity of words, music and meaning"
sandoni cantatas - 2022
A real discovery from the curious ensemble La Floridiana: cantatas and instrumental works Pier Giuseppe Sandoni, all world premiere recordings and a surprise: what was previously attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach, actually comes from - exactly: Sandoni.
An album of premieres of interesting Baroque works, dedicated to a composer who was a much sought-after composer and highly appreciated virtuoso on the harpsichord in Handel's time. We are talking about the Italian Baroque composer Pier Giuseppe Sandoni, who was known in his time not only as Handel's assistant and extremely virtuoso harpsichordist, but also as the husband of the famous prima donna Francesca Cuzzoni (1696-1778), for whom he wrote numerous arias. Despite their quality, Sandoni's works have fallen into oblivion; only a few of them have been edited, and the few that have survived lie only in manuscript in various European libraries.
Thanks to the ingenuity of Nicoleta Paraschivescu, leader of the Swiss ensemble La Floridiana, works by Sandoni can now be heard in a new recording. The album contains, of course, pieces for harpsichord solo like the "Suite in G minor" or the "Ciaccona for harpsichord in A major", but also instrumental pieces for ensemble like the "Sonata a Trè" for two violins and basso continuo in E minor. The cantatas "Dimmi crudel," "Chi s'intende d'amar," and "Del timor d'un cor geloso" heard on this album may have been written by Sandoni especially for his wife. In the case of this recording, they are sung by the excellent soprano Francesca Aspromonte (WHO APPEARS COURTESY OF PENTATONE)
"...Francesca Aspromonte pare de mille raffinements colorés et expressifs. Son timbre chaleureux, sa vocalisation agile et son fougueux tempérament de tragédienne (révélé dès sa mémorable Euridice, dans L'Orfeo de Rossi dirigé par Raphaël Pichon, HM) semblent la désigner comme la digne héritière de la Cuzzoni."
"...Francesca Aspromonte uses her soprano voice with great agility. She also has the technical skills to do so. Since the virtuosic demands are lacking here, she can first and foremost shape the flow of the music with ease. She also knows how to please with her legato, exemplary articulation and a balanced vocal line..."
The first recording of the opera with a countertenor in the title role! Serse is one of the most popular Handel operas; it is set in Persia (modern-day Iran) about 470 BC and is very loosely based upon Xerxes I of Persia. Serse, originally sung by a soprano castrato, is now regularly performed by a mezzo-soprano or countertenor.
The Italian libretto has a fascinating history, because it is based on one by Nicolò Minato from 1654 and was later adapted by Silvio Stampiglia (for an opera by Giovanni Bononcini in 1694). It is however unknown who eventually re-wrote the libretto for Handel. The three-act opera was premiered in London on 15. April 1738 at the Londoner Kings' Theatre and sadly had no success at all. After 5 performances they had to take it off the schedule and the opera was forgotten for almost 200 years! The famous opening aria, "Ombra mai fu", sung by Serse to a plane tree (Platanus orientalis), is one of Handel’s best known melodies for its outstanding beauty.
Francesca Aspromonte appears courtesy of Pentatone Records
""...Francesca Aspromonte se està imponiendo como una de las voces italiana mas interesantes para el barroco y su encantadora Atalanta, con una vocalizacion facil, solo lo confirma, rivalizando come soconda donna con la prima..."
"...Francesca Aspromonte's blithe, fresh-toned Atalanta is keenly alive to the moments of tenderness, even melancholy, that add depth to the character. This Atalanta is no mere flirt. Aspromonte also gives an object lesson in the pointing and colouring of the Italian text"
Ottavio Dantone leads Accademia Bizantina and a top-level cast in the new production of one of Händel's most important works, the composer's operatic debut in the UK and the first Italian opera ever written for London: Rinaldo.
The plots, magic and charm of 18th century theatre come alive today, bringing us back to the fervour of the London of the time. A real gateway to the golden age of Baroque theatre, with attention to the rules and conventions that underpin the drama for music.
Francesca Aspromonte appears courtesy of Pentatone Records
“…La voix de Francesca Aspromonte est pleine, ronde, bien projetée : elle lui permet ainsi de faire d’Almirena autre chose qu’une oie blanche plaintive et timide – ce qui ne l’empêche pas pour autant d’être fort émouvante dans les pages élégiaques. La chanteuse évite cependant de dramatiser le personnage à l’excès si bien que son interprétation devrait satisfaire à la fois ceux qui n’aiment pas les voix trop légères dans ce rôle, et ceux qui ne goûtent guère la surcaractérisation et certains excès expressifs de Cecilia Bartoli (version Hogwood)…”
À l'occasion des 450 ans de la naissance de Monteverdi, Cappella Mediterranea et Leonardo García Alarcón souhaitent lui rendre hommage avec ce programme empruntant au thème universel des péchés et vertus qui traverse son univers lyrique, ses madrigaux et la Selva morale : Monteverdi donne, avec L'Incoronazione di Poppea - l'opéra peut- être le plus amoral de l'histoire de la musique - une représentation du vice et des émotions qui y sont liées mais offre également son pendant vertueux, son remède moral, avec les madrigaux de la Selva morale. C'est dans cette perspective que ce projet a été imaginé.
Looking ahead to the 300th anniversary of the birth of Haydn in 2032, the Joseph Haydn Foundation of Basel has joined forces with the Alpha Classics label to record all of the composer’s 107 symphonies. This ambitious project is placed under the artistic direction of Giovanni Antonini, who now presents the third volume, after two previous issues that attracted great attention and received numerous awards, including the Echo Klassik Prize 2015 for the ‘best orchestral recording’ of the year.
Since he sees the music of Haydn as ‘a kaleidoscope of human emotions’, Giovanni Antonini has decided to approach the symphonies not chronologically, but thematically; the theme here is Haydn the philosopher. The Italian conductor has chosen in each of the programmes to make connections between the symphonies and other works. For this volume, he calls on the magnificent soprano Francesca Aspromonte to perform the famous aria ‘Solo e pensoso’.
"...Francesca Aspromonte (née en 1991) en cisèle vocalement chaque arête vive, chaque éclat d’un texte qui rappelle combien tout marcheur en pleine nature fut-il solitaire et recueilli, ne peut que reconnaître la silencieuse compréhension de la nature, miroir et écho naturel de ses tourments amoureux. Une réflexion musicale qui débute introspective et sereine puis se déploie en un ravissement plus conquérant et brillant, motif d’une virtuosité élégantissime pour la soliste..."
With this third installment of the Stradella Project, Andrea De Carlo and Ensemble Mare Nostrum continue the exploration of the oratorio output, following the recent rediscovery of San Giovanni Crisostomo.
An historical figure from the 10th century, Edith of Wilton was an English nun of noble birth, and legend has it that she refused the opportunity of taking the throne, causing the aversion of a faction of nobles.
The title role of Stradella’s oratorio, Edith is disputed between various allegorical characters: on the one hand Humiltà, pushing her to a chaste monastic life, on the other hand the mundane figures of Grandezza, Bellezza, Nobiltà and Senso, all inviting her to become Queen and enjoy the pleasures of life. In the end, Edith will ignore the strong arguments submitted by the latter in favour of the advice from an arrogant Humiltà, a sort of alter ego of the Queen who was not to be.
The Argentine soprano Verónica Cangemi offers us an emotional portrayal of the title role, surrounded by a distinguished cast, including Francesca Aspromonte as Nobility, Gabriella Martellacci as Greatness, Fernando Guimaraes as Beauty, Sergio Foresti as Sensuality, and Claudia Di Carlo as Humility.
As in previous installments, recording was made within the framework of the Alessandro Stradella International Festival in Nepi, the composer’s birthplace.
"...A vivid performance – a foil for the diverse cast of musical characters around her. The standout is Aspromante. This young soprano…is all sparking ease and delight..."
The importance of the musician Bernardo Pasquini is well known to all those who dedicate themselves to the study of the harpsichord or organ. His vocal music, on the other hand, consisting primarily of cantatas, operas and oratorios, is far less known. But it includes true gems of vocal art from the late Roman Seicento.
Pasquini belongs to the fortunate generation of composers who were under the patronage and sponsorship of such eminent personalities in Rome as Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni and Christina of Sweden, bringing forth the musical flowerings of the second half of the 17th century. In so doing, they made a decisive contribution to the stylistic and formal development of instrumental and dramatic vocal music in Italy up until the late Baroque period.
'La Sete di Christo' is a Passion oratorio. Four protagonists meet under the cross of Jesus on Calvary: his mother Mary, St. John, Joseph from Arimathia and Nicodemus.
The score’s sublime quality is nowhere in doubt and its absolutely original music-dramatic solutions were later assimilated by Handel in Rome. The pulsing rhythm of the musical narration goes far beyond the conventional erudition of the text, leading to a breathtakingly intensive finale.
"...Francesca Aspromonte’s fresh-voiced Virgin sings deliciously in counterpoint to succinct string ritornellos in music that ebbs and flows gracefully and emotively, and she concludes the oratorio with a deeply affecting musical evocation of the Pietà..."