Clear space for vital Vivaldi discs

The Vivaldi Edition aims to record all 27 manuscript volumes of Vivaldi’s music and if they're all as good as this recording of Orlando furioso, you're in for a treat

Composer: Vivaldi
Repertoire: Orlando furioso
Artists: Soloists, Ensemble Matheus/Spinosi
Rating: 5/5 
Genre: Vocal/Chamber
Label: Naïve OP 30393

The Turin University library houses 27 manuscript volumes of Vivaldi’s music, and the aim of the Vivaldi Edition is to put the entire collection on disc. If the coming 50 releases are anything like this stunning recording of Orlando furioso I’d suggest that you immediately prepare some space on your CD shelves. The plot (based on Ariosto’s tragi-comic story of a noble knight driven mad by love) speeds along, the characterisation is perceptive and generous, and the vocal writing touches the extremes of both coloratura virtuosity and pathos. There are memorable arias for all  of the central characters, including a wild mad scene for Orlando and a blistering defence of faithlessness for Alcina the sorceress. The performances are uniformly excellent: Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Orlando) pushes her characterisation right  to the edge of her voice, Jennifer Larmore is wonderfully proud and seductive as Alcina, and counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky (Ruggiero) does  a fine job in the opera’s most melting aria, ‘Sol  da te’. And some of the orchestral writing is so inventive, and played with such edge-of-seat intensity under Jean-Christophe Spinosi’s direction, that it has the power momentarily to confuse your ear with its unfamiliar sonorities. An outstanding achievement.