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Sara Mingardo (contralto) & Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord)

Tarquinio Merula: Hor ch'è tempo di dormire
Giovanni Legrenzi: Costei ch'in mezzo al volto scritt'ha il mio cor
Giovanni Salvatore: All’hor che Tirsi
Giacomo Carissimi: Deh memoria e che più chiedi?
George Frideric Handel: Suite in E minor HWV 438
George Frideric Handel: Lungi da me pensier tiranno

Wigmore Hall 11 Jun 2007

A distinguished BBC lunchtime recital by that rarity, a genuine contralto, whose beautifully modulated voice goes comfortably down into the baritone range. She really has a superb technique, and her voice is secure right from those incredible deep notes up to pianissimos at the top of the range.

Her main offering was of 17th C Italian cantatas, and Wigmore Hall supplied all the texts free of charge. Recitative and arioso more than aria in style, I wonder whether the beauty of the singing alone would have held the attention of radio listeners without texts and translations before them?

Alessandrini accompanied discreetly, playing an unidentified, modern-looking green harpsichord, angled perversely on the platform so that none of the audience could see the keyboard (not even those on the left side as is favoured in piano recitals to "see the hands" - though the sound is usually better the other side). Harpsichord cases, unlike those of pianos, traditionally do not have a cut-out section. Alessandrini gave a solo interlude, a small Handel suite, in which I thought he milked it somewhat with expressive rubato. Finally, a powerful Italian aria Leave me tormenting thought, that being another take on the vexed issue of fidelity or deceit as between Thyrsis and his lover, whose death had earlier been lamented by Salvatore.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Hear the same artists in the same programme on CD [Naive/Opus 111 OP 30395].



Handel, Martini & Vivaldi


Sinfonia from Amadigi
Cara sposa, amato bene: Perfido!, dì a quell'empio tiranno: Ombra cara di mia sposa
Sinfonia from Lotario
Aria: Se un solo è quel core: Inumano fratel.... Stille amare

Martini Sinfonia in D for 4 instruments (ed. Sugar/Suvini-Zerboni)
Vivaldi Cantata: Cessate, omai cessate

Sara Mingardo contralto
Accademia degli Astrusi:

Federico Ferri musical director, cello
Alessandra Talamo violin
Igor Cantarelli violin
Oliviero Ferri viola
Giovanni Valgimigli violone
Stefano Rocco archlute
Daniele Proni harpsichord &organ

BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert, Wigmore Hall 18 January 2010

Remembering with keen pleasure Sara Mingardo's BBC Lunchtime recital in 2007, her reappearance with the Accademia degli Astrusi was eagerly awaited. She is a great contralto, no question, but unassuming in platform manner, which makes a welcome change occasionally; she joined the players unnoticed during the applause for the first item.

Sara's Handel selection was mostly to rather depressing texts but she gave them ample variety, supported by an expert period instrument group whose instruments blended into a fine sound at Wigmore Hall.

Accademia degli Astrusi has embarked upon rediscovering works of Padre Giovanni Battista Martini (1706-84), "mostly unpublished despite their musical importance", and this little symphony today was a promising foretaste of riches to come.

The Vivaldi cantata was a winner, finishing strongly with the hero's angry feelings toward his Dorilla by venting his rage in "horrid caves" where "as a furious shade I shall have vengeance".

The full audience raised the roof with acclamation and obliged the musicians to give an encore - not usual in this series. Handel's "Ombra mai fu" was the perfect balm to send us out into the West End shoppng streets...

Peter Grahame Woolf

This lovely concert will be re-broadcast on Saturday and available on R3 Listen Again for a further week thereafter [Editor].