IBO & Peter Whelan - The Trials of Tenducci - American Record Guide
The soprano castrato Giusto Ferdiando Tenducci (c.1735-90) became a star attraction of London's Drury Lane Theater and in Dublin's well-established music scene in the middle of the 18th Century. He was like a "rock star" of the time, complete with scandalous behavior. The "trials" of the album's title refer to jail sentences in debtor's prison, an escape and recapture, controversy over his secret marriage to a 15-year-old singer, and other aspects of his colorful life. Tenducci was a friend of Johann Christian Bach and Mozart and came to prominence with his performances in Thomas Arne's opera Artaxerxes. The liner notes are almost entirely about Tenducci and tell little about any of the music, much of which is representative of trailblazing composers who visited Ireland in this period. The program begins with a 3-movement Symphony in G (also known as the Dublin Sinfonia) by Pierre van Maldere and includes the celebrated Overture and Irish Medley to The Island of Saints by Tommaso Giordani and a movement from an Oboe Concerto by Johann Christian Fischer, a celebrated oboist of the time. Whelan and the Irish Baroque Orchestra play these works with brio in a historically informed style. Sandwiched between these works are examples of music Tenducci sang in Dublin: two arias from Artaxerxes; `Caro Mio Ben' and `Queen Mary's Lamentation' by Giordani; and `Ebben si Vada' and `The Braes of Ballenden' by JC Bach. Tara Erraught is splendid in these pieces. She has a lucid, nimble, and lovely voice, sings with precise articulation of coloratura passages, and produces a real trill. Best of all is their airy and spirited performance of Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate to end the program.