Alessandro Scarlatti | Cantatas volume III (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi)
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The Independent Culture

Nobody knows precisely how many cantatas Scarlatti wrote, but 600 would be a conservative estimate. They are intimate pieces, in which the rhetorical flourishes of baroque opera are scaled down for domestic use: they were written for private performance to aristocratic connoisseurs, not for the riff-raff who attended the opera house (although Scarlatti also wrote 60-odd operas to keep them happy). Even in these days of complete editions no one is going to record the lot, but this third of four volumes in Nicholas McGegan's survey features the countertenor Brian Azawa. The recording surrounds the voice with a faint halo of resonance, but his voice is almost conversational in its ease. McGegan, directing the six-piece Arcadian Academy from the harpsichord, gets a bluesy flexibility from his players, as if they might be responding in the heat of the moment to the singer's emotional torment: listen to the rippling string figures that accompany Azawa's evocation of a frozen spring in the last cantata here. A neglected byway of the baroque, but worth exploring.