Handel Arias

ABC Classics 472 151-2
1 CD
full price
Recorded in 2001
Released in 2002

Available from ABC Shop

  • "Where're you walk" from Semele (HWV 58)
  • "Ombra mai f" from Serse (HWV 40)
  • "The trumpet's loud clangor" from Ode to St. Cecilia (HWV 76)
  • "Comfort ye ... Ev'ry valley" from Messiah (HWV 56)
  • "Tune your harps" from Esther (HWV 50a)
  • "Total eclipse!" from Samson (HWV 57)
  • "Ciel e terra armi di sdegno" from Tamerlano (HWV 18)
  • "S la sponda" from Tamerlano (HWV 18)
  • "Love in her eyes sits playing" from Acis & Galatea (HWV 49a)
  • "Gentle airs" from Athalia (HWV 52)
  • "Care selve" from Atalanta (HWV 35)
  • "Waft her, Angels" from Jephtha (HWV 70)
  • Silent Worship -- adapted from Tolomeo (HWV 25)
  • "Sound an alarm" from Judas Maccabaeus (HWV 63)

David Hobson (tenor)

Sinfonia Australis (on modern instruments)
Antony Walker, conductor

It is a pity that tenor recitals of Handel arias are so rare, but this Australian project is not likely to further the cause. Despite a promising programme that has been carefully planned to demonstrate the variety of Handel's writing for the tenor voice, David Hobson is - judging from this disc - not the singer for the job. A wide vibrato often covers weaknesses in intonation, and his can belto approach prohibits any of the lyrical arias achieving sufficient eloquence (although it suits "Sound an alarm" quite well). Hobson's ornamentation in "Where'er you walk" is disastrous, with much of its da capo simply altered into a syncopated time-lapse. The phrasing of the gorgeous melodic lines in arias such as "Tune your harps" and "Love in her eyes" is particularly brutal and disjointed. Combine these with a woeful lack of characterisation, and the overall effect is lethal.

It is also frustrating that we have yet another example of a lower voice singer wanting to sing "Ombra mai f", and also soprano arias such as "Lascia la spina" and "Care selve". The consequent slaughter is the single most devastating case yet made for these arias to be performed by the voice type for which Handel composed them. Not quite all is doom and gloom - Sinfonia Australis play their parts neatly, although their lack of sustained phrasing must be attributed either to a bizarre perception of baroque 'style' or a need to remain homogenous with Hobson. It must be acknowledged that the documentation is excellent and features a first-rate essay - although it is surprising that "Tune your harps" and "Love in her eyes" are both attributed to the 1732 revivals when both are from the original versions performed at Cannons in or around 1718 (the HWV numbers listed above have been corrected). Unfortunately, this disc cannot even be recommended to the curious completist.

David Vickers - July 2002

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