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Italians in Vienna: cantatas and concertos with Michael Maniaci

Posted 02.16.12

…consummate artistry

Male soprano solid as a rock: The star of Tempesta di Mare’s Sunday afternoon concert was guest vocalist Michael Maniaci. In all three of the secular cantatas Sunday afternoon for an audience that nearly filled Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church, he sang with consummate artistry, both technically and interpretively. Co-director Gwyn Roberts was joined by Eve Friedman for Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Two Flutes.” They delineated the first movement’s quick changes of mood, caught the elegant delicacy of the second movement, and the high spirits of the third through expertly balanced dynamics and rhythmic accents.” January 2. Chestnut Hill LOCAL, February 2012.

“Maniaci possesses a voice with the range of a female soprano and the color and fullness of a mezzo. It’s a rare gift, and he exploits it with an unforced naturalness that produced some of the most appealing vocal music I’ve heard. The program’s instrumental pieces were just as good as the cantatas. The opening number, Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Flutes in D, introduced the festivities with a Vivaldian rush. Richard Stone’s guitar added a rustic touch to the surge, and duets for the two flutes, played by Gwyn Roberts and Eve Friedman, contrasted with passages for the whole ensemble. The two flutists engaged in some witty, cheerful dialogue in a 1749 trio by Niccolo Jommelli while Eve Miller added the cello’s own style of jauntiness. Miller commanded the stage during the solos in her biggest moment, a cello concerto by Antonio Caldera, and Ngai and Fox engaged in some especially spirited interchanges in a trio sonata by Joseph Fux.” Broad Street Review, February 2012.

“For years, Tempesta di Mare has liberated its programs from the masterpiece mentality that often comes with higher-budget organizations. At Sunday’s concert at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, hardly a brand-name composer (excepting Antonio Vivaldi) or a previously known piece was heard. Tempesta di Mare is an old-music group that acts like a new-music group, by pushing the cutting edge back rather than forward. Performance-wise, the primary attraction at Sunday’s Italians in Vienna program was Michael Maniaci. There was a wonderful clarity to his passagework, and at every turn, his sympathy for the music ran deep, with a wonderful sense for shaping recitatives and making an aria phrase land with grace and confidence. As for the repertoire, the cantata “Perché son molli” had an airborne lyricism that reminded you how great Vivaldi can be.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 2012

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