This is a very well-performed and enjoyable programme of some of the Baroque's best-known and loveliest vocal works of Handel, Bach, Monteverdi, Pergolesi, Purcell and Dowland.
Danielle de Niese is a very fine singer with impeccable technique and intonation and she gives excellent performances throughout. Her style is quite Romantic in feel, with quite a bit of vibrato and an emphasis on expressive singing which makes an interesting contrast with great recordings of the recent past by Emma Kirkby, for example. I particularly like the opening of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater which she sings in duet with the great Andreas Scholl and where her overt emotional intensity works especially well. I hope they might record the whole work together at some point - on this evidence it would be something really special.
The English Concert, as one would expect, are terrific. They are completely at home in this repertoire and their playing is supple and responsive. They are excellent as an ensemble and there is some wonderful solo work - the trumpet playing in Let the Bright Seraphim and the oboe in Sich üben im lieben are quite outstanding, I thought.
Danielle de Niese is famously beautiful and Decca make full use of this, so that the cover is ambiguous about whether "The Beauty of the Baroque" is intended to refer to the music or to Ms de Niese herself. I suspect that this, combined with an air of "The Baroque's Greatest Hits" about the disc, may make some crusty old veterans of classical music like me a little dubious about whether the disc itself has real musical merit, but it genuinely does. I think it's a disc that will give real pleasure to an awful lot of people. Recommended.
on 14 June 2011
Danielle de Niese is a truly special artist, in my opinion, she will be regarded as the next Callas- and I don't mean because she is like Callas. Maria Callas was a truly singular artist in her time and was in a league of her own. Danielle de Niese is already regarded amongst her peers, mentors and critics in the classical music world as being in a class of her own, and as she grows into a fully mature artist, she proves this over and over again in both her recordings and her performances.
This is the type of album that really showcases her talents as both an interpreter and a first rate linguist in english, italian and german (her first recording of German repertoire). The love she feels for the music is almost tangible through the speakers!
You know an album is great when you want to listen to it more than once- certainly the case here, and this is a program of works by the most beloved of Baroque composers from British composer John Dowland, to Handel, Monteveri, and Bach by way of Purcell and Pergolesi.
Ms de Niese has varied her program between our favorites and her favorites, which (as a connaisseur of Baroque repertoire) kept me interested and intrigued throughout the program. Just as I was relaxing into the listening, I would come across a completely new arrangement or piece, my ears and senses relishing with delight piece like Monteverdi's Quel Sguardo Sdegnosetto almost as much I loved listening to the classics like the ethereal Ombra Mai Fu (which is absoutely gorgeous and beautifully interpreted for one so young).
But enough from me, listen for yourself and you'll agree. No classical music lover's collection would be complete without this wonderful album from Danielle de Niese (a precious time capsule of the magnificent Baroque period). The critics have all weighed in and they agree. Ms de Niese also includes three duets (Monteverdi, Pergolesi, and Handel) with the wonderful Andreas Scholl. Perfection to hear them together.
A MUST-BUY ALBUM on all accounts.
on 21 July 2011
I was lucky enough to see Danielle De Niese play Cleopatra in Guilio Cesare at Glyndebourne last year and her performance was electrifying. The warmth and vivacity she brings to her work just knocks you out when you see her live. I bought her last album on the strength of that, and then this one when it came out. She was on Radio 3 last night performing the Dowland live and being interviewed. She talked about how she imbues her passion for the music into the performance. She has been singing some of these pieces since she was at the Met, and as her voice develops she has been able to add more to her performance of them.
A great talent on top form singing the music she loves best, supported by a fantastic group of musicians. An awesome album. She is up there with Callas, Sutherland and Ferrier as a once in a generation voice.
on 12 September 2011
I'm a great fan of Danielle de Niese and was really impressed at how her confidence and voice have matured in this offering. She seems so much more relaxed with this, her fourth solo cd. The pieces she has chosen are well-selected and the duets with the great countertenor, Andreas Scholl, are beautiful and haunting. I loved particularly Bach's "Sich uben im Lieben" from the Wedding Cantata (BWV 202)- she sings it with such conviction!