"As Steals the Morn..."
Handel - Arias & scenes for tenor

Harmonia Mundi (USA) HMU 907422
1 CD
full price
Recorded in 2006.
Released in 2007.



Enjoy the sweet Elysian grove (from Alceste)
Where'er you walk (from Semele)
Urne voi (from Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno)
Forte e lieto (from Tamerlano)
Oh per me lieto, avventuroso giorno! (from Tamerlano)
Figlia mia (from Tamerlano)
Tu, spietato (from Tamerlano)
Total eclipse (from Samson)
Did love constrain thee? (from Samson)
Your charms to ruin led the way (from Samson)
Let but that spirit (from Samson)
Then shall I make (from Samson)
Thus when the sun from’s wa'try bed (from Samson)
Fatto inferno (from Rodelinda)
Pastorello d'un povero armento (from Rodelinda)
Tune your harps (from Esther)
Heav'n smiles once more (from Jephtha)
His mighty arm (from Jephtha)
Waft her, angels (from Jephtha)
As steals the morn (from L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato) *,

Mark Padmore, tenor
with Lucy Crowe, soprano *
with Robin Blaze, countertenor
with Katharina Spreckelsen, oboe obligato

The English Concert (on period instruments)
Director: Andrew Manze

Handel opera and oratorio aria recitals are not that rare, but the phenomenon is probably not going to lessen as the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death in 1759 approaches. At the moment the top of the list is definitely occupied by soprano Sandrine Piau and countertenor David Daniels with their opera arias recordings (respectively on Naïve and Virgin). Tenors will probably be less numerous than sopranos, mezzos or countertenors trying their luck, but Ian Bostridge is already on his way with a strange programme. But first, here is a disc of high standard that Bostridge will have to challenge. The conductor, the orchestra and the soloist here all offer heights of finesse and accuracy. Mark Padmore knows how to mix the registers of the voice and sings da capos ‘chiselled like lace’ (to use a French saying!). Though it does seem that there is absolutely nothing to cause reproach, I feel that something is lacking. So much attention results in a demonstration of good taste, but this very civilized approach slightly misses the dramatic dimension of some scenes. Maybe the programme’s mix of opera (Tamerlano, Rodelinda, Semele), oratorio (Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, Samson, Esther, Jephtha), incidental theatre music (Alceste) and an ode (L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato) could have offered more contrasts. But the lacking impression is partly due to the interpretations and characterizations offered by the singer. If Jupiter’s charm (Semele), Samson’s pain or Grimoaldo’s repentance (Rodelinda) fit him perfectly well, his Bajazet (Tamerlano) seems far too soft and lacks the aggressiveness and pride which are definitely part of the character. This is a beautiful musical realization, but sometimes lacks some drama.

© Philippe Gelinaud - July 2007

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