Handel: Italian Cantatas and Other Works

Analekta Fleur de Lys FL 2 3161
1 CD
full price
Recorded in 2002
Released in 2002

  • Mi palpita il cor (HWV 132c)
  • Suite in E major for harpsichord (1720) (HWV 430)
  • Irene, idolo mio (HWV 120b)
  • Sonata in D major for flute and continuo (HWV 378)
  • Lungi da me, pensier tiranno! (HWV 125b)
  • Harpsichord Piece - Air in the Water Music (HWV 464)
  • Fra pensieri quel pensiero (HWV 115)

Marie-Nicole Lemieux, contralto
Luc Beauséjour, harpsichord
Marie-Céline Labbé, baroque flute
Amanda Keesmaat, baroque flute

A new recording of Handel cantatas is always an attractive prospect. This is particularly the case when the rare Irene, idolo mio is placed alongside more famous examples such as Mi palpita il cor, and especially when it offers the chance to discover a new voice. The Quebec-based singer Marie-Nicole Lemieux won several prizes in 2000, including the Queen’s prize in the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Brussels.

This is definitely a beautiful low voice offering a fine interpretation of cantatas that were mainly written during Handel’s journey in Italy (at least in their original versions). The registers are homogeneous and her musicality is never caught out in the aria. There is regrettably some quirky technique with some odd placement of vowels on the larynx, and sometimes recitatives lack sufficient drama - but the sound recording could be responsible for this. The use of some reverberation and a slightly distant recording is definitely inappropriate for repertoire interpreted by one voice and two or three instruments, all offering charming moments in their solo parts. This is another example of the current fashion of recording everything in churches, but this can be a disservice to both the work of the musicians and its appreciation by the listener. Nevertheless, this debut recital by Marie Nicole Lemieux is very promising, and hopefully we shall soon hear her in other Handel works.

© Philippe Gelinaud - October 2002

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