This recording explores some of the lesser-known music from eighteenth-century Vienna that combines solo voice with virtuoso trombones. During the first half of that century, the city’s musical life experienced an unprecedented blossoming. The Habsburg Emperors aimed to turn Vienna into a truly magnificent capital for the Holy Roman Empire and used visual art, architecture, liturgy, court ceremony and, above all, music to help achieve this. The Habsburg rulers Leopold I (1658-1705), Joseph I 1705-1711) and Charles VI (1711-1740) took the “Holy” part of their title very seriously and paid for a huge amount of elaborate sacred music to be performed on a regular basis by court musicians, a major element of which was the performance of large-scale Oratorios in the Imperial Chapel.

Many of the arias presented on this CD are drawn from that repertoire. The music, much of it recorded here for the first time, is by established composers such as Caldara and Fux as well as lesser-known figures like Ziani, Porsile, Tuma and Casati. Alongside countertenor voice and trombones, the ensemble also includes bassoon, violins and continuo, thereby creating an attractive variation of colour and timbre throughout the recording. This is a disc which promises to surprise and delight as it brings to life unjustly neglected gems from a fascinating time.

Irr outstanding award