Amor e gelosia
Virgin Veritas 5 45628 2
Recorded in 2003.
Released in 2004.
- Duet "Caro/Dolce amico amplesso" (from Poro)
- Duet "Scherzano/Ridono" (from Rinaldo)
- Recit "Non ti bastò, consorte" & duet "Io t'abbraccio" (from Rodelinda)
- Recit "Mio deletto, che pensi?" & duet "Sol per te" (from Silla)
- Duet "Per le porte del tormento" (from Sosarme)
- Recit "Del destin non mi lagno" & duet "Caro/Cara tu m'accendi" (from Faramondo)
- Recit "Amarilli, Amarilli?" & duet "Amarilli/Oh Dei" (from Atalanta)
- Duet "Vivo senz' alma" (from Muzio Scevola)
- Duet "Finché prendi" (from Orlando)
- Recit "Perfidi! Ite de Poro a ricercar nel campo" & aria "Se mai più" (Di Donato) (from Poro)
- Recit "Macedoni guerrieri, tornate a vostro re & aria "Se mai turbo" (Ciofi) (from Poro)
- Sinfonia to Act 3 (from Poro)
- Duet "Gran pena è gelosia" (from Serse)
- Recit "Lode agli dei!" & duet "Se mai turbo/Se mai più" (from Poro)
- Duet "Alma mia/Dolce ristoro" (from Admeto)
- Duet "Ricordati mio ben" (from Flavio)
- Duet "Addio" (from Teseo)
Patrizia Ciofi, soprano
Joyce Di Donato, mezzo-soprano
Il Complesso Barocco (on period instruments)
Director: Alan Curtis
It is a brave idea to make a CD almost entirely filled with duets taken from Handel’s operas, although Alan Curtis also includes a sinfonia and two arias (one for each of the soloists) from Poro. The result is an enjoyable programme that places familiar favourites (“Per le porte” from Sosarme, “Io t’abbraccio” from Rodelinda, etc.) alongside some wonderful rarities: “Caro, to m’accendi” from Faramondo is particularly enjoyable, and other highlights are duets from seldom performed operas Silla, Atalanta, Muzio Scevola, Admeto and Teseo.
In his booklet note, Simon Heighes observes that Handel “was one of the few composers to recognise the duet’s true dramatic potential”. That quality is nicely realised here in each individual duet, but the powerful impact of these duets in their original context is not fully realised in this anthology. A duet such as “Io t’abbraccio” is overwhelming because its gorgeous music crowns the end of the middle Act in Rodelinda that is full of tension and drama. Here it is merely a lovely moment, and perhaps some of the greatness of this music is lost. It is not easy to deliver a recital containing only music that Handel devised for key dramatic moments. Furthermore, Il Complesso Barocco consists of single instruments on each part (much like on last year’s La Maga Abbandonata recital disc on DHM). This is enough to make a convincing chamber-styled performance, and the players perform with a nice sense of phrasing and understanding of the text, but it would be inadequate in the theatre. This intimate chamber music would seem very odd within a complete opera performance. As such, this Virgin Veritas recording is more like a sequel to Emmanuelle Haïm’s recent disc of Handel’s allegedly ‘Arcadian’ chamber duets than Alan Curtis’s own full-scale Handel opera projects.
Curtis proves that there is little wrong with hearing these duets as chamber music for their own sake. Mezzo-soprano Joyce Di Donato has a darker tone than soprano Patrizia Ciofi, but their voices blend nicely, and they demonstrate good telepathy leading into cadences and during imitative phrases. Some of this music can undo even the most experienced singers, but Donata and Ciofi scarcely put a foot wrong. The singing is expressive and stylish, but is most notable for its tastefulness and understatement. This is not a perfect disc, but its thoughtful attempt to explore a particular aspect of the repertoire makes it one of the most rewarding Handel recitals in recent years.
© David Vickers - June 2004
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