In the 1700s, the Baroque chamber cantata for solo voice and basso continuo was one of the most popular musical genres in Italy. Given the small scale and flexibility of the genre, its comeback in our own Covid-troubled times strikes me as long overdue. Ravishing recordings such as this one point the way forward. Not that there haven’t been several past fine recordings of chamber cantatas by the likes of Carissimi, Alessandro Scarlatti, Mancini and even Handel and Bach; it’s just that the genre has never really taken off like, for example, the art song.

Vivaldi

 

Which is a pity. Because whereas the texts, usually devoted to arcadian and mythological cliches, are disposable, the music is exquisite, the alternating recitative and da capo aria format providing abundant opportunities for compositional and performative elegance and extravagance alike. Both of which are on display in the six cantatas presented on Volume 68 of Naïve’s long-running Vivaldi Edition. There’s still some way to go, and this is just the first volume focusing on Vivaldi’s c.30...