On this CD the fabulous Cecilia gives us a collection of baroque arias, some never before recorded. She is backed by the superb Cappella Gabetta and cellist Sol Gabetta; the latter gets a chance to shine in the final work on the disc, the Cello Concerto No 10 in D Minor by Boccherini.

The collection is drawn from across 100 years of music by Albinoni, Vivaldi, Gabrielli and Handel. Works by lesser known composers such as Caldara and Porpora are recorded for the first time, such as Gianguir. Imperatore el Mogol and Gli orti esperidi. The more pliant items such as from Handel’s Ode for St Cecilia’s Day are very touchingly sung.

However, I’m not sure where to sit with this new recording. Primarily, it is beautifully performed and recorded, top notch in fact, so why am I ambiguous about it? It is not just the silly yuppie packaging with two lovely women flaunting themselves all over the cover. No, it is that despite the fine music on the CD it is all rather dull. In addition, the extravagant nature of the promotion makes the assumption that we need the hype rather than relying on the quality of the artists and the music to make up our minds for us. As elsewhere, the puerile world of pop has descended on classical music. I have no doubt that for those to whom this music is manna from heaven will be in disagreement with my curmudgeonly views, which is as it should be.

Composer: Vivaldi, Handel et al
Composition: Arias
Performer: Cecilia Bartoli ms, Sol Gabetta vc, Cappella Gabetta
Catalogue Number: Decca 4832473

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