Antonio Caldara, born in Venice in 1670, became vice-Kapellmeister at the Viennese Hofkapelle in 1716 remaining until his death in 1736. There he had a fine ensemble of musicians and this recital showcases some of the more unusual instruments he had at his disposal including the salterio – a large hammered dulcimer.

Valer Sabadus, one of the five star countertenors on Virgin’s lauded recording of Vinci’s Artaserse, performs a brace of arias from opera and serenati. His bright bell-like tone and effortless fiorature is startling from the get-go and his accompanists play with gusto. Sample track five Ahi! Come quella un tempo città, where a plethora of plucked instruments is a sheer delight with the state-of-the-art recording capturing every nuance from thrumming bass notes to glittering treble. Ditto the following Ah se toccasse a me with a pair of lutes duetting in call and response. Questo è il prato pairs haunting flute and chalumeau – a primitive ancestor of the clarinet with a peculiar rustic sound of its own. 

Lute aficionados will enjoy this disc as Caldara wrote for the great Francesco Bartolomeo Conti, and Michael Dücker (who leads the ensemble) is a thoughtful player. Cellist Ulrike Becker and ensemble offer a Concerto da camera à Violoncello Solo as an interlude taking it by the scruff of the neck and convincing you of its worth. A delicious disc of rarities.

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