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JS Bach: Violin Concertos
JS Bach: Violin Concertos
Price: £13.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 star category needed here, 27 Jan. 2016
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Buy this - you won't regret it.
I bought her recordings of the solo partitas & sonatas - fabulous - & at the time I wondered how someone so young could play with such intellectual & emotional depth, let alone the technical command. Then I saw her perform the same works over 2 late nights at the Proms'15 - the best 2 prom performances I have ever been to, played with a commitment and intensity of understanding & astounding technique I thought was generally unsurpassed - fantastic music-making.
Now the violin concertos & some transcriptions - fantastic again, I love the feeling of immediacy, naturalness and a sense of an improvisatory approach, and maybe the acknowledgment of Bach's immersion in Italian music, this performance feels so much more alive - 'live' - than any other performance I can recall of these works. There's a community of musicians playing here with a shared sense of an idiom, not so much an orchestra and then a solo performer overlaying all with their own 'interpretation'.
We will never really know how musicians played in the Eighteenth century, but maybe in this performance the freedom, a sense of the complete command of an idiom and a 'feel' evident here might be near enough to some aspects of that tradition. Alina Ibragimova plays with a level of ease and lightly-born authority which might characterize someone steeped in those playing traditions - along with great depth, she can also make Bach feel light, naturally rhythmic and entertaining when needed.

What can one really say in praise of someone with such an overwhelming innate musicality, such a formidable technique, a wonderful intellectual grasp of the music and such an integrity of approach to performing music - Alina Ibragimova's Bach should be listened to often - she shows you parts others do not reach - what next will she produce? An exciting and innovative musician and one to watch out for and listen to.
Thank you to all involved in producing this recording.

Handel: Alessandro
Handel: Alessandro
Price: £15.76

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Rossane and Lisaura - buy for these, not the rest., 5 May 2013
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This review is from: Handel: Alessandro (Audio CD)
I have all of George Petrou's Handel operas and find them wonderful but Alessandro is a disappointment.
The playing seems a bit rushed, even a bit harsh and when compared to the areated elegance and balance of kuijken's Alessandro which was recorded quite a while ago, this new recording sounds slightly heavy-handed.

The recording itself seems a bit bass-heavy and boomy, so there's lots of round warm martial horn sounds but also thundering d/basses and cellos which doesn't sound quite right. There's a clear enough topline, but between the bassy thunder and the top, the middle bits go missing, so, to my ears, some of Handel's subtle balance of sonorities is missing.

The 2 divas are 5 stars++++ performers apiece.
The really excellent thing about this recording is Julia Leszhneva singing Rossane - she has a compelling authority and poise backed up by the most stunning vocal technique. This recording is worth buying just for her performance. She produces the kind of singing which brings space and clarity even to the most hectic passages - Brilla nell'alma is astounding.
I would cross Europe, and have done, to listen to Karina Gauvin, she is a wonderful Handel interpreter, but here just occasionally she seems in some way over-engaged or hastened and maybe this tightens the voice, so some of her coloratura passages seem slightly like tremulous agitation rather than being precisely articulated vocalising. However thats only an intermittent impression, her performance is wonderful overall and as usual she brings a most impassioned and magisterially poised performance to the part.

Alessandro - I have yet to hear a counter-tenor (except perhaps the counter-tenor on the new Il Pastor Fido for a couple of arias) who does not have that strange hollowness at the heart of their voice. Handel never replaced his opera primi uomi (or any other operatic part) with falsettists, he used female mezzos/contraltos and he must have known what he was doing. (Alan Curtis has obviously taken note of this). So I don't really warm to Max Cencic, and indeed, the other falsettists. To my ears his/their voices, like other falsettists, sound a bit spooky and just doesn't have the mellow rich clarity the castrati are supposed to have had, or indeed some of the more powerful female singers around now. However, others may consider them just the ticket.

The same problem rather spoils the Kuijken Alessandro, he used Rene Jacobs, who of course is indisputably a renowned musician and scholar - but as a falsettist his Alessandro just doesn't really sound right either.

This recording should be a must-have for Handel followers and for George Petrou followers and above all to hear Julia Leshneva's performance. However, for balance, grace and subtlety I still prefer the Kuijken as the best Alessandro overall despite its age. The choice is between these two - or both.

This new recording has lots of excitement, whizz and superb divas but probably at the expense of pleasing alto voices, lightness, grace and mid-range subtleties.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 19, 2016 4:10 PM GMT

Handel - Il Pastor Fido (1712 first version) La Nuova Musica/David Bates
Handel - Il Pastor Fido (1712 first version) La Nuova Musica/David Bates
Price: £15.82

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Singing, Recording Ambience, Beautifully coloured playing, 13 April 2013
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Theres isn't a work by Handel which does not contain superbly conceived drama and music. I always thought Il Pastor Fido was meant to be a bit dull/boring and understood this from others' comments. There are some wonderful things in this so-called 'slight' opera. This 1712 version is fascinating because for the first time one can hear precisely what Handel originally intended and the sound dimensions he had in mind; if it was an evocation of the remote world of Arcadia, Handel - and La Nuova Musica - have done it superbly.
The scoring is indeed light, particularly in the beginning, but La Nuova Musica make the most of this and convey a sense of the light freshness of the arcadian landscape and the deft subtleties that Handel composes with - a concealed art, as indeed the pastoral tradition always embodied in any art form. However Handel does change the soundscape later, as the all too human world obtrudes, such as in 'ritorna adesso Amor' and there seems to be as much colour and variety - but on a smaller scale - as many of his other works. There are some amazing arias such as Occhi belli which is very unusual and hypnotic with its pizzicato strings and Tu nel piagarmi and the closing duet. So don't be persuaded this is not fine Handel.

The singing is superbly done by all and it is so refreshing to hear up-and-coming singers as well of course as the superb Lucy Crowe. They all retain that sense of the fresh clear, almost innocent, other worldliness of arcadia. Amazing crescendo work in occhi belli and Madeline Shaw was impressive with the breath control. I was even impressed by Clint van der Linde who, for a counter-tenor, sounded excellent and who has nearly managed to eliminate that empty hollowness one hears at the centre of count-tenor singing. His Tu nel piagarmi was beautifully sung.
Fantastic playing - richly and subtly coloured and alive, gets power/subtlety balance just right for this work. The recording sound, maybe the church, produces a wonderful clean open sound which compliments the subject.
My only very small reservation was that there is still a faint hint of the English Handelian 'squareness' to the style of playing, perhaps a last remnant of the 'traditional' playing style of Handel in this country; if La Nuova Musica could cultivate a hint of an Italian bounce, ease and sensuousness to their Handel playing - they would be stratospheric in my view. Waiting for their next Handel recording very eagerly indeed!!

Handel's Operas, 1704-1726
Handel's Operas, 1704-1726
by Winton Dean
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £60.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, superb, in-depth scholarship., 13 April 2013
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Unfortunately there is no 10 star option - this book should get it.

If you love/obessed with Handel and have an appetite for in-depth information, a deeper understanding of his operas, Handel's milieu and the way things happened this book and its companion on the later operas by one of the same authors are both essential.

The quality of scholarship is outstanding and multi-dimensional, almost on a par with the monumental standards set by Liddell & Scott's Greek Lexicon for instance. There is no evidence of jobbing generalist authors turning their attention to Handel, as so many modern works purporting to be scholarly seem to be, nor is there any evidence of some torturous well-nigh unreadable 'academic' theses with rather threadbare 'ideas' to flog.

With Dean & Knapp we get exhaustive information on each opera's performance history, the theatrical background, the borrowings, first lines indices for all arias and much more including general and specific analyses of structure, arias and so on.

The quality of mind or judgement bought to bear on the material is generous, informed, deeply considered, perceptive and as overwhelmed by Handel's genius as many of the rest of us. The writing is highly literate, easy and entertaining and at times betrays a dry ironical wit, probably not unlike Handel's himself - I like for instance the comment that Handel tended to doodle in 3/8 time - or indeed, in another mood, the openness with which Dean admits that it is hard to be measured when discussing 'ombra cara'.

Winton Dean originally produced a vast tome on the oratorios, equally impressive in depth and range as these operas volumes. At that time it seems Handel's operas were not considered equal in quality to his oratorio output. Dean subsequenlty changed his mind and wrote an account of his change of attitude to the operas in a book entitled 'Handel and the Opera Seria'.

Dean's 'Handel & the Opera Seria' contains some very interesting assessments and data, particularly on the early 20th century revivalist habits of transpositions and the inevitable pitfalls, and also on the roles of castrati, contraltos and counter-tenors as evidenced by Handel's original versions and his later revisions for revivals with different performers; this should make interesting reading for any who think that counter-tenors are the natural inheritors of Handel's primo uomo - and other - operatic roles, (unless of course one entertains the possibility that Handel got it wrong).

'Handel and the Opera Seria' precedes these 2 later volumes on the operas but unfortunately it seems to be out of print and very expensive to lay one's hands on. As some of the most authoritative writing on Handel this earlier book should be re-printed.

Above all, with these 2 latest volumes on Handel's operas, I think you get to know and appreciate Handel, his works and the world in which he worked - an excellent testimony to the readability of such a thorough piece of scholarship.

Handel - Riccardo Primo, re d'Inghilterra / Zazzo, Rial, McGreevy, Kammerorchster Basel, Goodwin
Handel - Riccardo Primo, re d'Inghilterra / Zazzo, Rial, McGreevy, Kammerorchster Basel, Goodwin
Offered by momox co uk
Price: £22.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for performers, 4 stars for production, 29 Jan. 2013
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Every Handel opera, however "little known" always betrays the incomparable genius that Handel was. So as an opera its a great discovery because it seems to me that the overall quality of this one, and others like Scipione, is very fine indeed with a high proportion of superb arias and varied and careful orchestration with a lot of attention to detail and colour, despite perhaps not the best example of recording clarity here.
In Feb 1727 Handel became British, and later that year finished Riccardo Primo - an English historical setting perhaps complementing his new-found nation status. In Nov 1727 the premiere included the very best singers - Senesino, Cuzzoni (Constanza), Faustina (Pulcheria) Boschi (Isacio), Baldi (Oronte).
Of the many brilliant arias, the following spring to mind: Se m'e contrario il Cielo (Constanza) beautiful, evocative; Di notte il pellegrino (Constanza) although the context is tragic, the wandering line of the soprano and the striking syncopated feel of bits of the ritornellos show a subtle, wry wit born along by the sheer beauty and bounty of the music; Ti vedro regnar sul trono & nel mondo e nell'abisso (Isacio) 2 tremendous force-laden arias for Boschi with real menace and compulsive contrapuntal drive; Alto immenso Poter (Constanza) short but profound; L'aquila altera (Pulcheria) very powerful aria for Faustina; Bacia per me la mano (Constanza) beautiful slow Handel.
This recording is a wonderful effort at this unjustly neglected masterpiece. At times I found the overall 'feel' & approach a little heavy, and there is a bit of reverb its true, but so what - this works very well for Alto immenso Poter, Isacio's arias, L'aquila altera and others. The sound has a 'live' quality to it which makes it fresh & present, but also at times results in the strange positioning of various orchestral sounds and some fuddle. My impression is that the recording/production might have supported the performers more.

Am not at all fond of the falsetto sound in Handel's operas, so while Lawrence Zazzo is fine he doesn't carry the part for me. Nuria Rial is wonderful, an early music/baroque specialist I think, and brings her own lovely qualities to the role - and she carries the burden of the big arias very well indeed - lovely voice.
There are inumerable things to quibble about, its not perfect, but its the best available recording to date. Winton Dean's comment that Di notte il pellegrino, if taken too fast, destroys it is indeed true of the only other recording available - but not here, Paul Goodwin has got it just right.
Highly Recommended.

Scarlatti: Serenate a Filli (La Risonanza/Bonizzoni)
Scarlatti: Serenate a Filli (La Risonanza/Bonizzoni)
Price: £14.80

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of best (Scarlatti) recordings, 29 Jan. 2013
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This is a superb performance & production. The singing is matchless - light, warm, refined and utterly engaged with the meaning and music. What a hidden wonder is Emanuela Galli.
The playing is equally stunning and lucid, & brings out all the subtleties and depths of Scarlatti's genius. Scholarship and precision are lightly born along in performance and there is that wonderful Italian feeling for music in all its lyrical and rhythmic subtleties and graces .
The production people must take great credit too, the sound world created is beautifully clear with tremondous depth and prescence, so while feeling live and fresh there is a harmonious balance of everything which supports a perfection of sound; if only such care was taken in all other general standards in recordings...
This recording matches La Risonanza's set of Italian Cantatas with Roberta Invernizzi and others which are equally beautiful and perfectly produced and top quality stuff.
This is one of the most impressive recordings I have come across. If you wanted 1 cd which epitomised Scarlatti's chamber music and captured the grace, elegance, passion and beauties of baroque musical sensibilities I would recommend this one, in fact, this kind of quality is so rare, it is a must.
Perfection, in my view - confirmed Handelian.

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