Jul 22

Karina Gauvin, Alexander Weimann, Arion Baroque Orchestra – Prima Donna (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 1.26 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: highresaudio

Canadian superstar soprano Karina Gauvin pays tribute to baroque diva Anna Maria Strada del Pò, singing rarities by Vinci, Vivaldi and some of the greatest Handel arie di bravura. Like Strada del Pò in her prime, Miss Gauvin sings this repertoire with powerful expression and brilliant technique, in particular, the trills for which Strada del Pò was renowned. More than thirteen opera roles were created by Handel for Strada del Pò (including Sosarme, Orlando, and Alcina). Strada del Pò’s talent and style may have influenced the composer’s work as much as he contributed to the vocal and dramatic development of the prima donna in the first decades of the 18th century.

Karina Gauvin has impressed audiences and critics the world over with her luscious timbre, profound musicality and wide vocal range. The Globe and Mail calls her “one of the dream sopranos of our time.” The Sunday Times in London also wrote: “Her glinting soprano, bright-edged yet deliciously rounded and sensual, is used with rare understanding for character… ”

Arion Baroque Orchestra, founded in 1981, is Quebec’s only early music orchestra performing on period instruments and is one of the most renowned early music ensembles in North America. Conductor Alexander Weimann has traveled the world as member of Tragicomedia, as guest of Freiburger Barockorchester, Gesualdo Consort, Tafelmusik, and as music director of Les Voix Baroques and Le Nouvel Opéra. As guest conductor, he has led the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Les Violons du Roy and the symphony orchestras in Halifax and Victoria. He is currently music director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Victoria (B.C.)

Composer: George Frideric Handel, Leonardo Vinci, Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Karina Gauvin
Conductor: Alexander Weimann
Orchestra/Ensemble: Arion Baroque Orchestra


By now Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin has appeared on a couple of dozen recordings and she always impresses. Aside from some Mozart, Britten, Barber, and another composer or two, her repertoire has been solidly based in the Baroque. We’ve come a long way from the HIP sounds of Emma Kirkby and Judith Nelson—not that I’m criticizing or denigrating them—and Gauvin’s rich sound has nothing of the boy treble in it; it is a full lyric soprano. It isn’t merely that she sings with vibrato—she simply has vibrato that she will occasionally eschew for effect; it is her echt womanliness that comes across so vividly.

Except for Meleagro in Handel’s Atalanta, a male role written for soprano castrato, all of the arias on this CD are women’s roles. And “Care selve” from that opera has been sung by everyone, from Leontyne Price to Pavarotti, with Kiri Te Kanawa in between. This CD pays homage to Anna Maria Strada del Po, who sang works by Vivaldi and Vinci before moving to London and performing in no less than 24 of Handel’s operas beginning in 1729 and until 1737. (The composer was relieved not to have the “dueling divas” Cuzzoni and Bordoni to referee anymore.)

Strada was one of three singers for whom Handel wrote a high C. Her dramatic range must have been great as well: he created Alcina for her. On this CD, Gauvin sings three of Alcina’s arias: the wandering, picturesque “Ombre pallide”; the sad, introspective “Si son quella”; and the emotionally complicated, self-pitying, angry “Ah! mio cor”. For these alone, with all their mood swings and varying vocal styles and dynamic ranges, this CD is worth buying.

“Scherza il mar” from Lotario dazzles to start the program, and Elmira’s “Dite pace” (from Sosarme), with a helpless character questioning the heavens, is marvelous as well. In fact, each interpretation here takes on the character of the person and situation, a feat even more remarkable when you consider that Gauvin’s voice is not a complex instrument: it is silky-smooth and luscious. Her innate musicality and perfect pitch create the thrills. “Care selve”, correctly accompanied by continuo alone, is a gorgeous, long-lined poem. And what a trill!

There are three well-spaced and brief orchestral interludes included, with the Adagio from Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op. 3 No. 1 being the most stunning. And throughout, the Arion Orchestre Baroque, playing on period instruments under Alexander Weidman, is never less than ideal. This is a stunner.


George Frideric Handel (1685-1759): Lotario, HWV 26
1. Lotario, HWV 26, Act I – Aria – Scherza in mar la… 05:23
Orlando, HWV 31
2. Act II – Non potra dirmi ingrata 03:55
3. Act II – Verdi piante, erbette liete 06:35
Leonardo Vinci (1696-1730): Astianatte
4. Astianatte – Tortorella se rimira 04:39
George Frideric Handel: Concerto Grosso in B flat major, Op. 3, No….
5. Concerto Grosso in B flat major, Op. 3, No. 1, HWV 312 -… 04:05
George Frideric Handel: Sosarme, re di Media, HWV 30
6. Sosarme, re di Media, HWV 30, Act I – Aria – Dite pace, e… 05:27
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): La verita in cimento, RV 739
7. La verita in cimento, RV 739, Act II – Aria – Addio caro…. 03:51
George Frideric Handel: Flavio, re di Longobardi, HWV 16
8. Flavio, re di Longobardi, HWV 16, Act III – Da te parto -… 05:13
George Frideric Handel: Lotario, HWV 26
9. Lotario, HWV 26 – Overture 04:07
George Frideric Handel: Alcina, HWV 34
10. Act II – Aria – Ah! Ruggiero crudel 02:33
11. Act II – Aria – Ombre pallide, lo so, mi udite 06:09
12. Act I – Si, son quella! 07:13
George Frideric Handel: Concerto Grosso in C minor, Op. 6, No. 8,…
13. Concerto Grosso in C minor, Op. 6, No. 8, HWV 326 – II…. 01:25
Alcina, HWV 34
14. Alcina, HWV 34 – Act III – Aria – Ah! mio cor 10:31
George Frideric Handel: Atalanta, HWV 35
15. Atalanta, HWV 35, Act I – Arioso – Care selve, ombre beate 03:32