Artesian-Arts

Vivaldi, Arnold, MacMillan and more

• As labours of love go, the French label Naïve’s Vivaldi edition, begun in 2000 and now notching up some 60 titles, takes some beating. The opera Il Tamerlano, performed by the Accademia Bizantina and directed by Ottavio Dantone, is the latest in the series, starring the baritone Bruno Taddia as Bajazet (by which name the 1735 tragedy is also known), countertenor Filippo Mineccia as Tamerlano and contralto Delphine Galou as Asteria. Mezzo-soprano Sophie Rennert (Irene) has the work’s best-known number, Sposa son disprezzata, in which she bemoans her fate as a spurned bride. Taddia puts high energy into his agitated Dov’è la figlia (Where is my daughter?), the strings of the Accademia Bizantina lithe and spirited in their busy accompaniment. Vivaldi wrote some of the arias, borrowing from elsewhere for others in the habit of the day. Performance standards are high, and even when interest dips a bit the three acts rattle along in high style.

• Kicking off with a bang and full of bawdy humour, Malcolm Arnold’s The Dancing Master, Op 34 (Resonus), performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and soloists in this world-premiere recording, conducted by John Andrews, has been neglected like so much of the composer’s music. This 1952 farce, commissioned by the BBC but rejected for being too racy, is full of double entendres and mistaken identity, as befits a piece inspired by a Restoration comedy: nothing to frighten today’s audiences, and full of melody and the vivid orchestration that made Arnold, among other things, such a skilful composer for cinema. A lively cast – Eleanor Dennis, Catherine Carby, Fiona Kimm, Ed Lyon, Mark Wilde, Graeme Broadbent – enunciate every word crisply. Andrews keeps the pace brisk, capturing the wit and making a persuasive case for this 75-minute work. Arnold has his advocate: his star may be rising.

Gallery: 20 song covers better than the originals (Espresso)

• Forty voices raised in song: Tallis’s Spem in Alium and a world premiere by James MacMillan, Vidi aquam, livestreamed from Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, are free to watch online, with Byrd’s Ave Verum and Ave Verum Corpus, beautifully reimagined by Roderick Williams. Sung by ORA Singers (also available as an album) and conducted by Suzi Digby.

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