Bought this for Julia Lezhneva as I find Graun generally to be big on florid and lacking drama and emotion. On first hearing it I felt that the singing was amazing but it was a bit boring and lacking real emotion in the music writing. I have now listened to it about 8 or 9 times on the trot and am completely won over by Lezhneva, who in the midst of singing perhaps the most difficult music I have heard with astonishing technique and pitch manages to also bring drama and poignancy to the music. She makes the music better than it is time and time again. I don't think I have ever heard such complex runs and decorations sung with such ease and accuracy. Worth getting and persevering with. The rewards are huge.
This is a stunning album, uniting one of the great vocal artists of our time with a fine forgotten composer in a performance that leaves me itching for the chance to see a full Graun opera staged. Lezhneva has a phenomenal range, extraordinary precision coupled with inventiveness, and astonishing emotional conviction underpinned by a rare interpretative intelligence, and she specialises in bringing out the psychological intensity of the mid-eighteenth-century aria. In Graun she has found a composer each of whose arias gives her the chance to explore a complex emotional narrative, anger turning to grief, excitement mutating into reflection, every mood conveyed with a commitment that leaves you feeling at the end of each piece that you've completed on a journey through a wholly satisfying dramatic experience. If you haven't heard Lezhneva before you'll be bowled over by her virtuosity; I really think there's nothing she can't do with her voice. The warmth of Graun's music allows her to display a side of her talent that hasn't been heard on her previous discs, combining her musical athleticism with genuine passion. This is one of my favourite albums, and I can't stop listening to it.