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Porpora – Cantatas Nos. 7-12 - Hyperion CD A67894

Porpora is known perhaps not so much for his music as the fact that he was one of Handel’s operatic competitors in 18th century London, and so I looked forward to this chance to make an estimate for myself. The cantatas featured here are intimate, domestic pieces discoursing on the pleasures and vicissitudes of love, in which the operatic world is only occasionally hinted at, notwithstanding their form of alternating pairs of recitatives and arias. Their expressive possibilities are fairly limited however, as the melodies rarely move by leaps and bounds. Iestyn Davies has a gentle, mellifluous voice that suits the cantatas’ small scale, but the interpretations are subtle to the point of blandness, as though even the performers can’t summon much enthusiasm for this fairly workaday music. This disc is a missed opportunity, which is a shame as Davies is sympathetically partnered by Jonathan Cohen on the cello throughout and the other musicians of Arcangelo at various points.
Curtis Rogers
Porpora – Cantatas Nos. 7-12 to Frederick Prince of Wales (1735)
Iestyn Davies (countertenor); Arcangelo; Jonathan Cohen (cello)
CD 78:04 minutes


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