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Johan van Veen
musica Dei donum, April 2016

The instrumental parts are nicely played. Overall the vocal parts receive equally good performances. …Ana Quintans and Carlos Mena are excellent as Nerina and Arsindo respectively. …Joana Seara is responsible for some of the finest singing on this set. © 2016 musica Dei donum Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2015

Francisco António de Almeida was born around 1702 and studied in Rome, our knowledge of him largely coming from court records of the Portuguese King João. It was during his reign that he sought to enhance the artistic aspects of his country, largely helped by the wealth brought to his kingdom from the colonies, the young Francisco seemingly one who benefitted from this largesse when sent to Rome to study. That information comes with an Italian drawing of him dated 1724, the added inscription describing him as ‘a young composer of concertos and church music and who sang superbly’. We pick up his life story again in 1728 when he returned to Lisbon and was witnessing the first performance of his serenata, Il Trionfo della Virtu, with Il Trionfo d’Amore coming the following year. Both can be viewed as preparation for the three operas in the Italian style that followed. That part of his repertoire we have already heard in a charming comedy, La Spinalba, released three years ago on Naxos 8.660319-21. Though the subject of Il Trionfo is serious, the music on this new release is of a pleasing disposition to keep audiences of the time in a good frame of mind. Viewed as an early opera it is crafted as a series of choruses, arias, duets and recitatives, the story of gods, nymphs and shepherds keeping the love and intrigue some distance away from reality, the ending being suitably happy with the triumph of love. There is no lack of virtuosity in the scoring, Nerina, at the centre of the story, sung with outgoing brilliance by the soprano, Ana Quintans, while the much experienced operatic counter-tenor, Carlos Mena, is very persuasive as her secret lover, Arsindo. Their blend of voices in the duet at the close of the first part being highly attractive, though most of my admiration goes to the bass, Joao Fernandes, who gives a superb account of the fast and highly decorated aria that takes the work to a close. I commented in my review of La Spinalba that the sound of Os Músicos do Tejo is more rustic than the more celebrated period orchestras, and as such probably comes closer to the quality of early 18th century ensembles, while the conductor, Marcos Magalhães, pushes the tempos along. Reliable recording after a rather fuzzy orchestral introduction. A world premiere recording and a Baroque discovery of lasting value. © 2015 David’s Review Corner





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