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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb addition to the Handel discography
Quite simply, this is probably the most important addition to the Handel discography in many years. The musicianship and pure style that comes across here in arias written for several of Handel's star divas in the 1720s and 30s (Cuzzoni, Bordoni etc), together with impeccable accompaniment and tempi from Christoph Rousset's Les Talens Lyriques, makes this a delight to...
Published on 27 Nov 2004 by R. H. Fitzsimmons

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing much to do with Handel.
I was staggered to read the other reviews - so much so that I had to check my CD very carefully to make sure we were all thinking about the same one. Piau has a beautiful voice, true, but the trouble is, she knows it. There is a fourgon-load of baggages enregistrés here, and to make room for it we have to dispense with something. Why not consonants? They do so...
Published 18 months ago by Peter Street


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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb addition to the Handel discography, 27 Nov 2004
This review is from: Handel - Opera Arias / Piau Les Talens Lyriques Rousset (Audio CD)
Quite simply, this is probably the most important addition to the Handel discography in many years. The musicianship and pure style that comes across here in arias written for several of Handel's star divas in the 1720s and 30s (Cuzzoni, Bordoni etc), together with impeccable accompaniment and tempi from Christoph Rousset's Les Talens Lyriques, makes this a delight to listen to time and again.
In recital discs such as recent offerings from Hunt Lieberson, Renee Fleming and Sarah Connolly, the Handel aria has never seemed so alive, but with Piau's recital we find that, although the arias have been removed from their contexts in various operas, she nevertheless imbues them with due sense of emotion, character and utter believability. Whether singing Cleopatra's sensual and heartfelt plea from Giulio Cesare (se pieta), Angelica's emotional farewell from Orlando (verdi piante) or the 'rage aria' from the end of Act 2 of Scipione (Scoglio d'immota fronte) which she recorded with Rousset in a complete version of the opera sadly no longer available, Piau gives us gem after gem.
There are no gimmics here, no complete re-writes of the vocal llines, no mannerisms, but a pure and committed performance from a true Handel diva, all the better as she has sung these roles in live opera performances. With some baroque singers it seems as if you have to listen out of reverence for a lost art - with Piau all you have to do is accept some truly great genuine soprano singing. This volume deserves 10* and should be a best seller.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MOST SUBLIME HAENDEL RECORDING, 4 Dec 2004
This review is from: Handel - Opera Arias / Piau Les Talens Lyriques Rousset (Audio CD)
I'll try to be concise. This CD is the greatest CD of Haendel arias ever recorded. The only flaw is Piau looks like Maxine Carr. I'm being flipppant. Piau's singing is pure, assured and totally sincere, she carreses every note. She is a virtuoso and worthy of being a prima donna of the sort which an exasperated Mr Haendel dangled out of a window by her ankles. However, you can hear from her voice, Piay loves and has an understanding of the internal emotianal workings of this music. As Diamanda Galas has termed her own work, intravenal song. The genius of a composer such as Mr H and an interpretation of this stature both Piau and Rousset (his pacing and sense of nuance, verve and the subtleties of themusic are genius)communicate something beyond the literal text, and this is when oprea seraia is at it's peak. I could write pages, but I won't, just buy this album. Truly great music is like falling in love; nothing else matters, all around becomes secondary, and the fact that such music can touch such deep part in you nearly 300 years after it was written; well I grew up with punk and alternative, but in another 300 years it will be music composed & performed such as this which will still be so very poignant and transcend the fashoins and forms of it's time. I may sound pretentious, but really, this is a truly great work, if you have any love of Haendel or oprea it's a must have, and if not, then open your eyes and buy it anyway.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The girl can sing, 16 Oct 2005
By 
Christopher Ward "Bretwalda" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel - Opera Arias / Piau Les Talens Lyriques Rousset (Audio CD)
I had never heard of Sandrine Piau, nor was I particularly familiar with Handel's many opera seria. However, on the strength of reviews here and elsewhere I decided to buy this wonderful CD, and am I glad that I did. The singing is sheer delight from start to finish, assured, secure, brilliant. And the orchestral accompaniment is equal to the diva's sublime performance. For those like me maybe more familiar with Handel's later (English) output, this feast of early Handel is a delight and a joy - what a genius he was. All the works (obviously) have an Italianate feel and all show off the voice to perfection, in a range of different styles and tempi. I could go on and on, but the simplest advice is just to mortgage your house, sell your granny, do whatever it takes to raise the money to buy this sublime CD; you won't regret it for a minute.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Handel Opera recording, 8 May 2007
By 
Marcolorenzo (Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel - Opera Arias / Piau Les Talens Lyriques Rousset (Audio CD)
Effortless and stunning vocalism with immaculate technique together with great depth of feeling and fine orchestral playing. The whole recording is more than the sum of its individual parts; it expresses a range and depth of Handel's genius that no other opera recital recording to date does. Booklet notes place the aris in their context within the individual operas. Many arias are from lesser known Handel Operas. Winner of the Handel Society recording prize against very tough competition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets, 1 Sep 2009
This review is from: Handel - Opera Arias / Piau Les Talens Lyriques Rousset (Audio CD)
This is as good as it gets. I cannot remember hearing anything as close to perfection as this recording (well, maybe Martha Argerich's live performance of Prokofiev's piano concerto). Rilke said that "beauty is the first touch of terror we can still bear" and there is something wonderfully terrifying in the precision and sheer beauty of this recording. Sandrine Piau is, no doubts, a goddess of soprano delivering notes with ease and grace of a precious instrument which she definitely is. If you dare to bear more, try Ms Piau taming Vivaldi on "In Furore".
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing much to do with Handel., 8 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Handel - Opera Arias / Piau Les Talens Lyriques Rousset (Audio CD)
I was staggered to read the other reviews - so much so that I had to check my CD very carefully to make sure we were all thinking about the same one. Piau has a beautiful voice, true, but the trouble is, she knows it. There is a fourgon-load of baggages enregistrés here, and to make room for it we have to dispense with something. Why not consonants? They do so get in the way of voice production, especially if yours depends on a very tasteful vibrato, don't they, and we are not being asked to sing in French, so the words don't matter. They are, after all in the booklet. Matching the booklet words to the sounds Piau gives us turns out to be a forensic exercise of some complexity.

Among the rest of the baggage is, of course, Bartoli. The speed and accuracy of Bartoli's divisions seems to be the guiding star here, and my gosh, we are going to match them. And all but one of these arias are from female roles, so mostly we aren't taking on the castrati. But we are going to do drama - so much easier to do when the words can be suppressed. And why bother with vocal line, when your accompanying orchestra is more interested in the niceties of baroque mannerism, as understood in the late 1990s. There is some nice playing from Les Talens Lyriques, true, but it doesn't exactly reflect Handel.

You think I'm exaggerating? Then listen to the last item, the only castrato aria on the disc. This is one of those simple siciliani with which Handel breaks our hearts time out of number. The simile is almost standard - we are like a weary pilgrim who has lost his way, but if we have a comforting light or star to go by, we are lost no longer. The simplicity is as deceptive as Mozart's, the composer most anticiapted by Handel at his best, which this is. The first section is repeated three times. By the end of the second line, at the word cammino, Piau thinks a very tasteful Gigli-style catch in the voice is appropriate. We are doing drama after all. Dutifully she varies this in the other two repeats. But this piece needs to be sung simply, with the words absolutely clearly enunciated. Not one of them is, anywhere. What we get instead is fuss and fiddle. I don't know how Handel would have reacted to this recital, but he did once try to throw a very respectable world class soprano out of his first floor window for getting it wrong. He might have been kinder to Paiu, but she is thinking about Bartoli rather than the composer. Very dangerous.
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