Pushing the musical boundaries

Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky joins innovative ensemble L’Arpeggiata as it fuses classical music with jazz and flamenco

Title: Via crucis
Composer: Various
Repertoire:  Music by Biber, Allegri, et al.
Artists: Nuria Rial (soprano), Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor), L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar
Rating:  4.5/5
Genre: Vocal
Label: Virgin 694 5770

The rise and rise of the unclassifiable group L’Arpeggiata continues apace. How to describe their soundworld? Perhaps ‘period band meets Buena Vista Social Club’ gives a clue. Whatever their mojo, director Christina Pluhar’s inspired decision to mix 17th-century religious settings with jazz improvisation and sultry Latin riffs pays gorgeous dividends. There are foot-stamping dances, soul-tearing laments and joyous outbursts. One moment Nuria Rial is giving a relatively straightforward account of Monteverdi’s Laudate Dominum; the next she’s singing Sances’s hypnotic Stabat Mater as if she were in a flamenco nightclub. Art music reveals its debt to folk; folk is elevated. More please. 

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