El Maestro Farinelli


Pablo Heras-Casado, one of the most exciting conductors of his generation (Die Welt), makes his Archiv Produktion debut performing instrumental and vocal music associated with Farinelli, the legendary 18th-century castrato who served as impresario and court musician to the kings of Spain.

As one of the label’s Archiv Ambassadors Pablo Heras-Casado enjoys an unusually varied conducting career: He has encompassed the great symphonic and operatic repertoire, historically-informed performance and cutting-edge contemporary scores, and has already developed a special rapport with a number of soloists, orchestras and opera houses.

Now he returns to his core repertoire and musical heritage.

Farinelli the most admired of all castrato singers was a legend already during his life. From 1724 to 1734 he achieved extraordinary success in many northern Italian cities incl. Venice, Milan, Florence, Parma and Turino, before he signed a contract in London with the company of the composer Porpora (Porpora was at that time Handel’s competitor, Handel failed to secure Farinelli.)

Farinelli decided to break his contract in 1737, as he was called by the queen of Spain to help cure the debilitating depression of Philip V. It became his responsibility to serenade the king every night an obligation he apparently maintained until the king s death in 1746.

This new album with works of Baroque composers like Hasse, Porpora and Jomelli represents a fine selection of pieces, which Farinelli presented during his time as concert master/conductor in Madrid and Aranjuez. El Maestro Farinelli features eight world premier recordings, including some arias sung by Bejun Mehta, the best countertenor in the world (Süddeutsche Zeitung).

Label: ARCHIV Produktion
Release date: May 5, 2014


“Most discs exploring the work of the castrato Farinelli concentrate, inevitably, on vocal music. Maverick conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, however, focuses not on the singer but on the impresario, by examining the period (1746-1759) when he was artistic director of the royal theatres in Madrid and Aranjuez, an appointment that effectively put Spain on the musical map . . . the individual numbers are terrific, the conducting flamboyant and the playing punchy and suave. Vocal music isn’t totally neglected: countertenor Bejun Mehta is ravishing in one of Farinelli’s trademark arias, Alto Giove from Porpora’s Polifemo.”

Tim Ashley – The Guardian

“The much-missed Archiv label is relaunched with this selection of mostly orchestral music allegedly associated with Farinelli’s musical direction of lavish entertainments and operas at Aranjuez and Buen Retiro. Scratch the surface of the concept and it disentangles, not least for the inclusion of irrelevant overtures by Jommelli and Traetta (both of them enjoyable). There’s infectious fun from a battery of tinkling percussion and an extrovert wittiness of phrase in excerpts from Baile de las máscaras by Francesco Corradini, who did actually work alongside Farinelli in Madrid. So did Nicola Conforta, whose overture to La festa cinese gets proceedings off with a colourful bang. Perhaps censure for conceptual tenuousness is moderated because Concerto Köln’s zesty punchiness is a good fit for the dynamism of conductor Pablo Heras-Casado – nowhere more compellingly than in CPE Bach’s vibrant Fandango Sinfonia in E minor (no connection to Farinelli but an entertaining piece) . . .”

David Vickers – Gramophone