Kulturkompasset | critics of culture events

CRESCENTINI on CD with Marina Comparato

Girolamo Crecentini. Cover

GIROLAMO CRESCENTINI. Cantate e Ariette a voce sola e fortepiano.

MARINA COMPARATO, mezzosoprano, GIANNI FABBRINI, fortepiano

Label: TACTUS. 2 CD. TC 760390

ITALY: Although his name is not likely to ring a bell for most opera lovers, Girolamo Crescentini (1762-1846) was a famous composer and voice teacher (among his pupils there was even Isabella Colbran). It was however his career as a sopranist that brought him the widest acclaim all over Europe, as he turned out to be one of last great Italian castrati.

The barbarian custom to perform orchiectomy in children before puberty, and so before their voice changed, was popular for some centuries, until the end of 1800s or the beginning of 1900s. This allowed the birth of many generations of singers, who were used by the composers of that time because of their vocal peculiarity. Some of them became very famous, such as Farinelli, Velluti, Siface, Senesino, and Girolamo Crescentini, of whom some vocal works (almost unknown until now) are contained in thIs interesting two CDs box.

Marina Comparato singing Crescentini

Obviously castrati don’t exist anymore, and today these compositions are sung by modern voices, in this case one of the most interesting italian mezzos, Marina Comparato.

This is a monographic collection of six Cantatas and 18 Arias for voice and forte-piano, composed in Paris in 1810, and six Arias written by Crescentini for Holland’s Queen in 1800.

Crescentini’s importance is represented by his being a link among late Classicism and Protoromantism. He had also some influence on Italian 18th Century operatic Romanticism: a not negligible anticipation of the 1800s (some of his long melodic lines seems quite to forestall Bellini’s ones).

Ms. Comparato approaches these pleasant works with affection and respect, bringing them to life with her beautiful, luminous and multi-coloured voice.  Her approach is not cerebral, she tries always to go beyond the sound and the note, to enrapture the listener with typically Italian vocal lines, Crescentini‘s works being clearly projected towards Bellini and Rossini, that is the brightest period of Italian nineteenth century vocalism

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The Cantatas have a more articulate structure, while the Ariettas are shorter and probably more spontaneous. Ms. Comparato catches very well the chamber style of these compositions, at times melancholic, at times serene, and she creates a miniature of each aria
. This collection is an integral, so sometimes the musical style or the poetic athmosphere may repeat themselves, but the vocal intelligence of Ms. Comparato let us overlook it.

Pianist Gianni Fabbrini plays a copy of a period forte-piano, following the singer with great sensivity and a perfect style,  with understanding and respect for the musical line, sometimes rather complex, of the accompaniment.

This new release is made even more valuable for its being authentic “cycles” of virtually unknown works.

The sound quality is very good, but unfortunately the box doesn’t contain the text of the compositions, written by Metastasio.


Revuiew by: Fabio Bardelli

translation from italian Bruno Tredicine


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