Customer Review

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A close run contest, 30 Dec 2008
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This review is from: Handel - Riccardo Primo, re d'Inghilterra / Zazzo, Rial, McGreevy, Kammerorchster Basel, Goodwin (Audio CD)
Listening to 'Riccardo Primo' in isolation one could easily conclude that it is the finest of the five operas written during the 'Rival Divas' era - there is a great deal of wonderful music in this opera and the plot is reasonably intriguing and not too ridiculous (as opera seria plots generally go). Of course in truth 'Admeto' is probably the best of the five but I very much enjoyed trawling through 'Riccardo Primo' again in this recording of the piece by Paul Goodwin on DHM.

Having owned the older recording from Rousset for some years now, I was curious to hear this newer version especially as reviews have been so favourable. Finding a clear 'winner' between the two recordings is pretty much impossible however as both versions have much to recommend them. I do agree that Goodwin gets more drama from the piece and is the more exciting of the two. Rousset's reading is beautifully detailed but more laid back. Often Goodwin's tempos are more upbeat and I think this benefits the piece - the storm music is much improved.

As to casting, well that's going to be down to personal preference. Mingardo is in glorious, sumptious voice for Rousset in the title role but again, Lawrence Zazzo makes more of the words and is the more exciting singer. By conntrast, Piau has the more dramatic voice as Costanza (for Rousset) but then again perhaps Nuria Rial's gentle, soft-grained voice is more apt for this wilting violet role. In the Faustina role of Pulcheria, Claire Brua was always the blot on the landscape on Rousset's recording - her contralto really too fruity and heavy for the role. Geraldine McGreevy for Goodwin is far preferable and does make something dramatically of the role too. There is little to choose between the second countertenors - Pascal Bertin (Rousset) and Tim Mead (Goodwin) are both excellent. Nor did I find much to choose between the various basses although Scaltriti is very good as the villain for Rousset.

Ideally, Handelians should have both recordings as they both have their virtues. If pushed, perhaps I would have to say that the newer Goodwin recording has the edge (just).
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Location: Scotland

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