The Crown – Heroic Arias for Senesino (Randall Scotting) – Opera – Reviews
The Crown – Heroic Arias for Senesino
Airs by Ariosti, Bononcini, Giacomelli, Giaj, Lotti, Orlandini and Ristori
Randall Scotting (countertenor); Orchestra of the Enlightenment/Laurence Cummings
Signum Classics SIGCD719 74:23 mins
In this first solo album, seven years in the making, countertenor Randall Scotting unleashes a delightful vocalism. Featuring tunes for castrato superstar Senesino, whose fame stems from now-forgotten works, Scotting brings us obscure and often unreleased music, eschewing Senesino’s now all-too-familiar Handel tunes.
The tracks not only cover Senesino’s career, but also the castrato’s unique lineage of heroes. Offstage a little tyrannical, Senesino was a complex artist, reshaping from one tune to another the characters of valiant leaders in which he excelled. Scotting builds on this heritage by applying deep color, muscle core, and baritone chest register to probe a wide range of feelings. In numbers of bravery, he pushes the tempos to their climax, encouraging the other performers, often through thrilling rolls. On slower trails, Scotting’s voice message, the nuanced crescendo/decrescendo over sustained pitch that Senesino was famous for, is fascinating in music about love and despair. Scotting’s sensational Covent Garden debut in 2019 showcased his superb acting, and this recording captures his dramatic artistry as he weighs specific words in the recitative as well as the aria. Scotting’s cadences and diminishments tend to be reserved, following Senesino’s credo of taste before extravagance. The group might have offered more hindsight. The continuo productions are lavish, with director Laurence Cummings spinning lovely melodies from his figured bass, but the obligatory parts when repeated are largely unadorned. This seems out of place: the virtuosos accompanying Senesino surely jousted with him to attract attention. This recording is however the showcase of its singer, and as such, it is imposing.