Ceclia Bartoli performs with Il Giardino Armonico works of supposed complexity written for castrati. Composers represented include Handel, Porpora, Leo, Graun, et al. This might be my second "castrato" CD after already enjoying Vivica Genaux in Arias for Farinelli. I picked up the deluxe edition which includes a booklet covering everything you might want to know about castrati. Perhaps unsettling is the graphic representation throughout the CD packaging of knives and tools used for castration. Multiple languages are represented in the book, and we also get some detailed notes on the arias. Bartoli certainly sounds different than a castrato might sound, but she nevertheless does an admirable job with the music. She's of course got a first-class "backup" band in Antonini's Giardino (minus Onofri). Pieces such as track #7, In braccio a mille furie by Porpora is a real fireworks type of piece that Bartoli excels at. If you were to judge her intonation and control in the Vivaldi set with IGA, here she has even more control and finesse. The sound effects come out with thunder and horns in Chi temea Giove regnante Leonardo Vinci's number. Between all the singer's notes, the sound effects, and the energy behind the ensemble, the piece is emblematic of the type of bounty found within this set. You likely won't know any of the pieces presented here, save for Handel's Ombra mai fu from Serse. The faster numbers are certainly fun and will survive repeated listens. The whole collection isn't all fireworks, and Bartoli manages to find her regular soft side here too. They are less favorite, but when listening to the album as an album, they certainly break up things for contrast. Throw in some rustic concerti for strings by Vivaldi or a concerto by other Italians, and you'll have an even more collection for a evening of listening. This release may not be for all fans of vocal music. You'll likely already know Bartoli's sound. I like far less robust singers (Emma Kirkby, Jaroussky) but there's enough room for Ceclia too! Take the plunge into the world of the unknown. I'm not sure you'll need the "compendium" of castration, as I certainly don't need it to enjoy the music. But if you're interested at all in the art and history behind music like this, you may well decide to go for it. Samples are available via the singer's website of both the prose and of course, the singing.