This recording explores some of the lesser-known music from eighteenth-century Vienna that combines solo voice with virtuoso trombones. During the first half of that century, the city’s musical life experienced an unprecedented blossoming. The Habsburg Emperors aimed to turn Vienna into a truly magnificent capital for the Holy Roman Empire and used visual art, architecture, liturgy, court ceremony and, above all, music to help achieve this. The Habsburg rulers Leopold I (1658-1705), Joseph I 1705-1711) and Charles VI (1711-1740) took the “Holy” part of their title very seriously and paid for a huge amount of elaborate sacred music to be performed on a regular basis by court musicians, a major element of which was the performance of large-scale Oratorios in the Imperial Chapel.
Many of the arias presented on this album are drawn from that repertoire. The music, much of it recorded here for the first time, is by established composers such as Caldara and Fux as well as lesser-known figures like Ziani, Porsile, Tuma and Casati. Alongside countertenor voice and trombones, the ensemble also includes bassoon, violins and continuo, thereby creating an attractive variation of colour and timbre throughout the recording. This is a disc which promises to surprise and delight as it brings to life unjustly neglected gems from a fascinating time.
"... Not only is the English countertenor Alex Potter on outstanding form on this disc, but the music he sings is as excellent as it is unfamiliar. He is also accompanied by an outstanding team of instrumentalists... The sound engineering within a midly resonant acoustic is excellent, with each musician clearly placed within the sound-stage and a perfect balance maintained between singer, obbligato instruments and the rest of the ensemble. This somewhat neglect disc is unquestionably worthy of an ’Outstanding’ accolade..."
Christopher Price - International Record Review - January 2015