Lettere Amorose (D. Scarlatti)

Virgin Veritas #5455462
Patrizia Ciofi (soprano), Anna Bonitatibus (alto); Alan Curtis (conductor), Il Complesso Barocco.
Ciofi appears in 4 out of 11 pieces: Piangete occhi dolento, Scritte con falso inganno, Se l'alma non t'adore (with Bonitatibus), & Empia man ci divide (with Bonitatibus).
Released in August 2003.

"At the heart of the programme lie three chamber cantatas, the love letters of the disc’s title. They represent an exchange between lovers who have fallen out. In the first letter the woman (Ciofi) sets out an animated appeal for compassion, the answer from her former paramour being an uncompromising reply so full of recrimination that in the final letter she angrily rejects him. All three works, which date from Scarlatti’s Spanish period and are notable for their melodic appeal and the characteristically inventive harmonies in the string writing, convey strong and intense passions, forming between them a compelling miniature drama. It is a measure of the success of the performances that the ardour lying behind the letters is strongly communicated by both singers, my only slight concern being that the singing is at times arguably a little too operatic. [...] Interspersing and succeeding the cantatas we are given nine of the composer’s mature sonatas [...] Finally, this generously filled and intelligently planned disc concludes with duets from two of Scarlatti’s early operas, L’Ottavia restituita al trono (Naples, 1703) and Tolomeo et Alessandro (Rome, 1711). Both music and performances are of such a quality as to make one long to hear more of this neglected side of Scarlatti’s output." Goldberg

"Scarlatti might not rival Handel as a melodist, but this is absorbing, inventive music, always likely to surprise you with a sudden, bizarre turn of phrase or disconcerting key shift. The interlinked cantatas are in the favourite baroque form of "love-letters", with the ex-lovers vying with one another in recriminations and self-pity. Patrizia Ciofi and Anna Bonitatibus, both with fresh, flexible voices, characterise with gusto and relish Scarlatti's colourful word-setting - none of the coy restraint here favoured by some early music specialists. Alan Curtis draws bold, gestural playing from the tiny string band, and gives enjoyable performances of a varied group of harpsichord sonatas, sometimes a shade stiff rhythmically, but always responsive to the music's originality and offbeat charm." Telegraph 7-Jun-03

"Ciofi and Bonitatibus are exemplary baroque stylists." Sunday Times 18-May-03

"Patrizia Ciofi and Anna Bonitatibus have pleasing, fresh-sounding voices, clear declamation and lively responses to the anonymous texts in the form of love letters. Notwithstanding occasional, very slight tonal insecurities, their performances bring to life the animated correspondence with inflective charm and stylistic finesse." BBC Music Aug-03

"The vocal duets show Curtis's superb rhythmic instincts and brisk directorial style to great effect, but the bright voices of Patrizia Ciofi and Anna Bonitatibus ill-suit the acidic tone of his strings." Independent 1-Jun-03

"Patrizia Ciofi et Anna Bonitatibus y sont excellentes, fougueuses et combatives, virtuoses sans être acrobates dans un ardent affrontement polyphonique avec les deux violons. Chaleureuses, intenses, vibrantes, leurs voix généreuses investissent l'espace très littéraire de la lettre sans en abîmer l'intimité ; bien au contraire, jouissives, elles la provoquent et l'exaltent." Ramifications.be


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