Max Emanuel Cencic arrives on my doormat in the nick of time.

Max Emanuel Cencic

I’ve been heads down writing this week and enjoying it. Sometimes I do get computer fatigue though and wonder what to do to revive my spirits. Often music is the answer but at the moment I’m involved in some “big” and truly wonderful pieces by Tchaikovsky and Brahms on my journey through the year 1878 and they can be just too absorbing and distracting to work as ‘interlude’ music. I can’t write if any music is playing, unlike some lucky people, but I have an addict’s passion for my music fix every day. The answer arrived in the post this week – a new album, ‘Venezia’,  by the astonishing Croatian countertenor, Max Emanuel Cenci singing operatic music from Venice at the time of that most popular of composers, Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). I have always been a fan of Barque vocal music and of the extreme technique required to sing this music originally intended for those castrated male singing stars of the 17th/18th Centuries known as Castrati. Mr Cenci arrived at my house exactly on time.

He was a boy soprano in the Vienna Boys Choir and then, after his voice broke, amazingly, he carried on singing soprano as a falsettist. Later he retrained as a countertenor and revealed one of the most exciting voices around at present. If you are one of those sad people who still can’t accept the male falsetto voice in this music, well, sorry, you’re gonna have to make another effort. This man is truly sensational.

I now take regular Vivaldi breaks and the writing is going swimmingly. Have a listen to this – ‘Io son rea dell’onor’ from the opera Argippo by Antonio Vivaldi. The video has some imaginatively chosen photographs by the artist known as Oltre il barocco.

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