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Handel: Orlando
 
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Handel: Orlando

12 May 2014 | Format: MP3

£10.49 (VAT included if applicable)
Buy the CD album for £15.90 and get the MP3 version for FREE. Does not apply to gift orders.
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Handel: Orlando
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Product details

  • Release Date: 12 May 2014
  • Label: Archiv Produktion
  • Copyright: (C) 2014 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 2:39:29
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B00JVO3R0G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 78,604 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By C. Wake on 19 May 2014
Format: Audio CD
Act II of "Orlando" begins in a wood, with the Shepherdess Dorinda singing to and with nightingales. We may imagine onstage a roccoco sylvan scene with Dorinda suitably outfitted, more Marie Antoinette than Phoebe or Audrey. For this pretty picture Handel wrote a delicate little aria – he even took the trouble to specify how many violins should play each line, so as to get the balance just right. The total effect must have been exquisite – we can some idea of it from the Hogwood recording – but not quite exquisite enough for Rene Jacobs. He thinks Handel's orchestration needs help, so he adds a rainstick – one of those bean-filled hollow bamboos beloved of primary schools. If you think that sounds like a creative idea, you may well enjoy this recording; otherwise, perhaps not.

It's easy to understand why Jacobs chose to record "Orlando". Handel was under commercial pressure in 1733 and he responded with a magical mystery opera in which there is a dazzling scene-change or a great tune every ten minutes – sometimes both. He also included several dramatic scenes in the "pathetic" style for Senesino, the celebrity singer of the age. Jacobs' talent has always been to heighten drama, and "Orlando" was just the work to give him new ideas – except that it didn't. He just gives us all the monkey-tricks familiar from previous performances – remorseless unscripted recorder doubling (the primary school effect again), improvised obbligato lines, and a vast continuo battery - though here it’s the cellist who gets to camp it up, rather than the previously privileged keyboards (save for one or two riffs on Handel organ concertos!). Tasteful, it isn't.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Paul C on 25 May 2014
Format: Audio CD
I can only agree with much of what has already been written by my co-reviewers.

The singing and orchestral playing is excellent, as is the recorded sound. The performance is well paced and is dramatically brought to life by the singers.

However, given that Jacobs has more than enough theatrical experience to bring this wonderful work to life, I fail to understand why he meddles so much with the score.

Many of his additions have already been commented on, but among the solecisms I spotted were a piccolo doubling the violins, a tambourine accompanying the final chorus, organ continuo, elaborate continuo links between tracts of recitative and changes of tempo within arias.

For me, this recording is an opportunity missed - had Jacobs stuck to the score, this would probably have been the number one choice of recording. As it is, it's something of a novelty act and music lovers looking for a faithful rendition of this superb score should look elsewhere.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy on 24 May 2014
Format: Audio CD
Those who have bought other René Jacobs recordings of Handel operas may know that they always get a little more than Handel wrote. This new Orlando is the same, with woodwind added to the string line, an anachronistic organ accompaniment to recitatives, and so on. These additions are pleasant to the ear, but of course not what was composed, and once again Jacobs rather gives the impression of thinking that he knows better than the composer. As other reviewers have already observed, there are extra twiddles and flourishes a-plenty too, including on a couple of occasions something that sounds for all the world like a telephone ringing. The fanciful tampering with the music in Orlando's mad scene made me cringe somewhat, even on repeated listening. These noises might be very acceptable in a theatre, but on a studio recording they work, at best, only the first time of hearing. After that they leave us longing for an unadulterated version of things--what it really "ought" to sound like.

That said, the orchestral sound here is excellent. The playing of the B'rock Orchestra is very fine indeed, and in isolation would merit five stars. I wonder how irritated the musicians may have been by Jacobs' directions, including the irrational speeding up or slowing down of the music at certain points, a very curious feature of this recording. Generally speaking, I like the soloists too. They sing with feeling and with colour. I could be persuaded that the terzetto that ends act one is the best on record, with all the lushness of Christie's ravishing but (it must be said) incorrectly slow version, and the correct speed of Hogwood's.

Where I am less happy is with Bejun Mehta as Orlando. I have never really been convinced by him, finding his singing unsteady and his vibrato exaggerated.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By JM Olmesdahl on 23 May 2014
Format: Audio CD
While it's wonderful to see another Handel opera finally appearing on Archiv again, I'm afraid to say Bejun's Mehta's assumption of the role, sung as it is here, makes a strong case for preferring female singers in castrati roles than counter-tenors. I did not take well to his edgy and campy style of singing and there were a few moments that really had me cringing. Whatever Sensino may have sounded like I'm quite sure it was nothing like this! A real lost opportunity when one thinks of the numerous fine female voices associated with Handel opera who could have given us more secure and satisfying singing. But perhaps I am being unfair to the counter-tenor cause? - Other recordings with counter-tenors (James Bowman for Hogwood or Owen Willets for Weimann) show that more affecting singing is indeed possible. Whichever way, Mehta's singing is just not something I find myself wanting to go back to for more. The other singers are all reasonably fine although Konstantin Wolff's bass is a bit on the dry and croaky side for me. Comparatively, I find David Thomas (for Hogwood) a more interesting vocal personality.

On the plus side, the sound, as one would expect from Archiv, is lush and vivid and Jacobs keeps the drama moving along nicely. The orchestra play well and I hope we will get to hear more from them. And even if there is more than a fair share of thunderous storm effects we are at least spared some of the obtrusive harpsichord fantasias present in some of his other opera recordings. I'm not sure what the brief organ solo at the end of the bass aria "Sorge infausta una procella" was in aid of? - An embellishment added by Jacobs?

All in all, I'm sad to have to say that Bejun Mehta derails my enjoyment of the opera as a whole. Hogwood, Christie and Weimann all offer recordings that are arguably safer (by which I mean they stand up well to repeated listening) even if they do not always quite have the flair of Jacobs.
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