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Angelika Kirchschlager, Händel Arien, Kammerorchester Basel, L. Cummings (released November 14, 2006)
Other Handel Discs Reviewed at Ionarts:
Cecilia Bartoli | Sarah Connolly
Natalie Dessay | Renée Fleming
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
Sandrine Piau | Andreas Scholl
"To me Handel's ingeniousness appears most explicitly in his slow arias," she says. "The most incredible emotions and 'tremblings of the soul' are linked only to a very few notes. Basically the power of the music comes out of nothing -- but this 'nothing' seems to be everything." (remarks quoted by Martin Bernheimer)The selections are taken from three Handel operas, beginning with Ariodante, in which Kirchschlager has just sung the title role, as reviewed in Le Figaro, Libération, and the Financial Times. This was staged at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées with Christophe Rousset, Les Talens Lyriques, and Vivica Genaux (see below) as Polinesso. Sesto was the first Handel role Kirchschlager sang on stage, in Glyndebourne's 2005 Giulio Cesare, and it is featured second on this disc. The final set of arias is taken from a much less familiar opera, Arianna in Creta, and any company deciding to mount it should engage Kirchschlager for the role of Teseo she sings here. On this recording, made only last August, Kirchschlager collaborated with the Kammerorchester Basel, a conductor-less chamber orchestra with, in this case, British conductor Laurence Cummings at the helm. The results make for excellent listening, with lush and active sound from all sections, even those notoriously difficult horns.
Sony BMG 82876889522
Vivica Genaux, Handel and Hasse Arias, Les Violons du Roy, B. Labadie (released September 12, 2006)
For her Handel and Hasse recording, Genaux worked with Labadie and his Canadian historically informed performance ensemble, Les Violons du Roy. The last time that they were in Washington, it was to give a beautiful, Handel-heavy program with soprano Karina Gauvin. Their sound is lean and lovely in this recording, with a svelte and unified violin section and exceptionally accurate wind playing. The group's concert here in Washington included a number of dance pieces from Handel operas, showing off Labadie's experienced hand at realizing the character of Baroque dance which so infuses music of this period, a strength that comes through in this recording, too. It is especially nice to combine Handel with some rare enough recording space for the music of Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-1783), with selections from one of his operas, Arminio, and a cantata, La scusa. This matches up respectably with pieces from Handel's Orlando and Alcina and his lovely cantata in honor of St. Cecilia, Splenda l'alba in oriente. In a nice marketing touch, you can watch a nifty video on the collaboration of Genaux and the instrumentalists.
Virgin Classics 7243 5 45737 2 9