This is a work which Handel returned to throughout his life. Il Trionfo (HWV46a) was first performed in Rome, with Corelli as first violin, in 1707 when Handel was only 23. The revised version recorded here (HWV46b) was given in Italian at Covent Garden in 1737. The better known and shorter English version (HWV71, as recorded by Emma Kirkby under Denys Darlow on Hyperion) did not appear till 1757, two years before his death. This recording is live, but the audience are almost invisible, and Naxos have excelled themselves in providing not only the Italian text (which is normal in their opera releases) but also an English translation. On three well-filled discs this is both a complimentary view and a strong challenger to the Hyperion version. I haven't heard the recording but there is also a third hybrid recording of the 1707 version with Italian arias and newly translated English recitatives on the American Centaur label conducted by Daniel Stepner. One would have thought that anybody interested in early Handel (and his debt to Scarlatti) would want Martini who sticks to Cardinal Pamphili's original Italian throughout, and anyone favouring later Handel (Messiah onwards) would go for Darlow's version which uses the authentic English text prepared for Handel by his librettist Thomas Morell.
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