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French contralto, Delphine Galou, releases two albums concurrently, both Vivaldi – one Arie e cantata per contralto, the other Musica sacra per alto. I suspect that if you purchase one you will be moved to buy the other as well. Don’t be fooled into thinking that one will be obviously more dramatic at the expense of its companion, for both of them share a similar sound world. Galou may beguile or infuriate – hers could be called a Marmite voice – but she is never dull. She relishes the texts and despite her clear diction she sings with exceptional smoothness of line within her relatively narrow vocal range. She also leans into phrases, and can sometimes sound deliberately straight-toned, and could be accused of being hooty. But take one example of her art, in Musica sacra she performs Vivaldi’s antifona Salve Regina, (RV618), consisting of six short texts, where she illuminates a range of developing emotions through her verbal accuracy and vocal palette. Likewise the recitative in the Miserere, where she reduces her tones to a whisper of shame, bursts into an emotional line, then pulls back again. Galou just avoids melodrama, though sometimes Ottavio Dantone’s conducting crosses that line, but it is arresting and convincing. As a bonus, Alessandro Tampieri plays the Violin Concerto in D Major with impressive bravura.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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