The Handel Institute
The Handel Institute

Haendel: Sacré Profane

Ambroisie AMB 9958
1 CD
full price
Recorded in 2004.
Released in 2004.

  • 'Introduction instrumentale' & 'Orride larve' from Admeto (HWV 22)
  • 'Rompo i lacci' from Flavio (HWV 16)
  • Concerto grosso, op.3 no.3 (HWV 314)
  • Mi palpita il cor (HWV 132d) -- premiere recording
  • Duet 'Io t'abbraccio'* - from Rodelinda (HWV 19)
  • Trio sonata in F major, Op 2 No 4 (HWV 389)
  • 'Then long eternity' from Samson (HWV 57)
  • Allemande (harpsichord)
  • 'May at last my weary age' from L'allegro, il penseroso ed il moderato (HWV 55)

Roger Expert, countertenor

Patricia Petibon*, soprano
Ensemble Amarillis
(on period instruments)


The coherence of this programme is not really evident, despite a lengthy ‘explanation’ written by the singer himself in the booklet. Expert's essay is a sort of reflection about the notions of sacred and profane, but it contains some glaring historical mistakes (including some optimism about the number of operas and oratorios composed by Handel, and a comment about the composer being an excellent trumpeter and oboe player, which seems to be a revelation!). Expert's vision of Handel reminds me of the 19th century romantic approach to musicography.

Irrespective of Expert, this CD is an occasion to appreciate the accuracy, colours, finesse and expressiveness of the ensemble Amarillis. Throughout the entire CD, its performances are highly enjoyable, and despite its small number, the music never sounds narrow. The other feature of particular interest is the première recording of a version of Mi palpita il cor that has a solo oboe part in the last aria. This oboe introduces a very nice shade in the pastoral colours of the cantata.

Robert Expert’s performance is quite erratic. The voice seems to not always be at its right place, and his lack of control results in occasional instability, in which registers are not properly unified. Diction is sometimes very poor (see the arias in English). Expert's musicality and involvement more or less manage to compensate for the vagaries of his singing. The Italian pieces are the most convincing vocal performances, and the duet from Rodelinda with soprano Patricia Petibon works quite well, even though both singers could seem to be cast against type.

© Philippe Gelinaud - November 2004

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