Having entranced audiences across Europe with their performances of the music which Georg Frideric Handel wrote during his time in Italy – mainly in Rome – between 1706-9, and having also delighted record buyers with the seven-volume series of “Le Cantate Italiane di Handel”, released on Glossa, Fabio Bonizzoni and his singers and musicians of La Risonanza have now gone on to impress the jury of the 2011 Gramophone Classical Music Awards. On October 6, at a ceremony held in The Dorchester hotel in London, the British magazine bestowed upon the Italian musicians a prestigious Gramophone Award in the Baroque Vocal category, for the final volume in the Handel series, Apollo e Dafne (a recording which contains two further cantatas, Agrippina condotta a morire and Cuopre talvolta il cielo as well as the title work). The singers on this disc were soprano Roberta Invernizzi and the two basses Thomas E. Bauer and Furio Zanasi.
This new success for Bonizzoni and La Risonanza follows on from three Stanley Sadie Handel Recording Prize awards for earlier releases in the Glossa series.
Fabio Bonizzoni himself went to London for the event and just prior to him stepping up to collect the Gramophone Award we asked him about his reaction to this new demonstration of critical approval for his music-making. “I am especially happy to receive this Gramophone Award”, he says, “but one thing that I want to say is that this award is not just for me, but it is something that I share with the performers who took part in the final volume of the Handel series. And not just those musicians, given that the Award is quite considerably a reflection of the achievement of the whole series. Therefore, I would like to extend my own happiness to all the people who took part in this quite challenging adventure in Italian music.”
In many ways the whole series represents a considerable musical and discographical event given that the overall grouping of Handel cantatas in Italian with chamber instrumentation has not been very actively approached before (even where plenty of the cantatas have been recorded singly or in groups). Does Bonizzoni believe that he has been able to capture the ‘moment’? “I do, and we have done it with wonderful singers and musicians and, over a period of five years working with Glossa in this way, I believe that we have achieved something really quite splendid, artistically-speaking. Audiences have been acclaiming this project in concert as well as on record with enthusiasm and love, and it has been something very important in my professional life. I very much enjoy my ‘job’ and I think that I am very lucky to have the chance of keeping on doing music that I really like and with the people that I like.”
With the soprano Roberta Invernizzi – who appeared in no less than nine of the cantatas across the Handel series – Bonizzoni is now set to make a new recording, this time exploring the operatic atmosphere conjured up by Antonio Vivaldi. “In a certain way,” says Fabio Bonizzoni “this is a response to the many fans of Roberta who have been asking us to record with her once more. But here the CD will focus on Roberta as the soloist. Until now, she has been singing in recordings with more than one singer in the cast and in complete works (such as the Handel Cantatas). For the Vivaldi recording Roberta will be our ‘star’ singer, approaching well-known and not so well-known arias by Vivaldi. In the former her fans can listen to her and compare her, if they like, to other famous singers, whilst at the same she will be presenting some beautiful but lesser-known arias to shed further light on the composer.”
Does Bonizzoni feel that he is providing an echt-Italian interpretation of such Italian music? “Whilst I am conscious of this, it is not the primary source of my inspiration, which is that I am always trying to be very faithful to the music of whichever composer I have in front of me. Handel, for example, was enjoying enormously Italian music and life – you can be aware of that but you can hear it also, because his joy in the Italian music is maybe unmatched in Handel’s later years. I am convinced that his Italian period was probably the happiest of his life, especially when you think of all the problems he had in London with money, singers and so on. All this you hear from the music, the freshness of his Italian music of Handel is unmatched later on. So, in my case, the music acts as a prompt, and such music would have been performed by Italian players and sung by Italian singers and, I am sure, composed by a composer who was feeling deeply Italian at that point – he was learning from Italian musical language – and he fell very much in love with my country and with Rome and with all the culture that he could breathe there. At the end, what we give – by being faithful to him and to his Italian music – is Italian performances. But it just comes rather than being planned.”
by Mark Wiggins © 2011 MusiContact / Glossa Music