Il giardino dei sospiri (SACD)

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Magdalena Kožená, Václav Luks , Collegium 1704


On her first PENTATONE album, Czech star mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená returns to the baroque repertoire that launched her early career. Il giardino dei sospiri is a collection of scenes from secular cantatas on tragic love, ranging from Handel’s Qual ti riveggio to new editions of works by Leo (Angelica e Medoro), Marcello (Arianna abbandonata) and Gasparini (Atalia). These vocal works are connected through instrumental pieces by Handel (sinfonia of Agrippina), Vinci (sinfonia from Maria dolorata) and Sarro (introduzione from Didone abbandonata, included on the digital album in 96/24 PCM and 44.1/16 PCM only). Initially conceived as a scenic project, Il giardino dei sospiri offers a richly-faceted and profoundly moving aural drama. Kožená interprets the tragic heroines of these love stories with fervour, accompanied by Václav Luks and Collegium 1704.

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Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739): Arianna abbandonata
1) Prestissimo
2) Adagio assai
3) In minuet. Presto
4) Recitative: Dove, misera, dove
5) Aria: Come mai puoi
6) Recitative: Se fia che pensi, o caro
7) Aria: Che dolce foco in petto

Leonardo Vinci (1690-1730): Maria dolorata, Sinfonia
8) Allegro
9) Largo
10) Minuet

Francesco Gasparini (1661-1727): Atalia
11) Aria: Ombre, cure sospetti

Leonardo Leo (1694-1744): Or ch'è dal sol difesa (Angelica e Medoro)
12) Aria: Or ch'è dal sol difesa
13) Recitative: Siedi, siedi ben mio
14) Aria: Che detto avranno mai

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759): Agrippina
15) Sinfonia

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759): Qual ti riveggio, oh Dio, HWV 150
16) Recitative: Qual ti riveggio, oh Dio
17) Aria: Empio mare, onde crudeli
18) Recitative: Amor, che ascoso ne’ suoi vaghi lumi
19) Aria: Se la morte non vorrà
20) Recitative: Questi dalla mia fronte
21) Aria: Si muora, si muora
22) Recitative: Ecco, gelide labbra 

Domenico Sarro (1679-1744): Didone abbandonata
23) Allegro
24) Largo e staccato
25) Minuet

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As perhaps befits her first CD for a new label, Magdalena Kožená has returned to her roots, giving us a program of scenes from secular cantatas on tragic love, a favourite subject of Baroque composers, hence the title the Garden of Sighs. She is joined in this colourful program by Czech early music orchestra, Collegium 1704, who are not only excellent performers in their own right, but act as a repository of virtuoso players who work with other ensembles. Of the composers, only two are familiar, Handel and Benedetto Marcello, while Leonardos Vinci and Leo have only recently come to notice—the last figure, Francesco Gasparini, is even now undeservedly obscure. All five are outstanding practitioners of Italianate late Baroque expressivity, and Ms Kožená is the perfect interpreter of this highly dramatic music.

- Chris Dench, The Classical Music Collector