Orfeo[s] – Italian & French Cantatas by Pergolesi, Alessandro Scarlatti, Clerambeault and Rameau

Reviewed on Tue 04 Aug, 2015

Korean soprano Sunhae Im has a voice suited to drama, and she sweeps up and down with impressive vigour, delighting the listener with a broad emotional palette, by turns plaintive and pleading then fiery and strident – perhaps a bit too strident at times when all this Baroque gesturing sometimes seems a bit much.

Korean soprano Sunhae Im, backed by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, essays four versions of the Orpheus story from the Italian and French Baroque – respectively by Pergolesi, Clerambault, Alessandro Scarlatti and Rameau. The format for these chamber cantatas is the traditional recitative-da capo aria structure throughout. Inevitably, though two are French and two Italian, there’s a certain sameness of approach across all four pieces – which is perhaps as good a way as any of testing one’s tolerance for inflexible Baroque dramatic conventions. Fortunately, Sunhae Im has a voice suited to drama, and she sweeps up and down with impressive vigour, delighting the listener with a broad emotional palette, by turns plaintive and pleading then fiery and strident – perhaps a bit too strident at times when all this Baroque gesturing sometimes seems a bit much. Arguably a less tightly focussed recital would have given her gorgeous voice even greater variety.
–Mark Walker