Haendel au faîte de sa gloire !
Selon un célèbre chroniqueur de l'époque, Charles Burney, les opéras de Haendel représentaient les concerts les plus complets" au cours desquels "s'ajoutaient au chant le plus parfait et aux effets d'un orchestre puissant et bien discipliné, un excellent jeu théâtral, des scènes et des décors splendides".
Grâce à ses nombreux contacts avec l'Italie, Haendel eut l'opportunité de faire appel à des castrats tout simplement extraordinaires. Retrouvez sur ce disque les plus beaux airs jamais confiés à ces castrati
qui, grâce à des contre-ténors comme Andreas Scholl, reviennent aujourd'hui à la vie..."
No more making allowances for countertenors--now the best of the breed have voices as rich and as varied as those of any other range. Exhibit A: Gramophone
cover boy Andreas Scholl. Unlike David Daniels and Brian Asawa, who made their splash on the opera stage, Scholl became famous as a concert and oratorio singer. He doesn't sing with Daniels's temperament and fire; along with a certain equanimity, he has a round, pleasing sound and a vibrato that's attractive but never intrusive. For his first operatic recording, Scholl chose his music wisely: rather than tempest arias or bursts of martial fury, he gives us long, beautifully shaped melody in the title aria and the famous "Verdi prati
." He's at his delightful best in the "birdsong" and "hunting" arias from Giulio Cesare
: the clean coloratura, detailed phrasing, and imaginative embellishment are reminiscent of Emma Kirkby in her prime. The instrumental soloists in those arias (violin and horn, respectively) are equally fine, as is the entire period-instrument orchestra. However, nearly half of the playing time on this disc is instrumental music--that seems rather much for a recording marketed as a showcase for a hot young singer. (The much-recorded concerto grosso "Alexander's Feast" in particular seems superfluous.) With that caveat in mind, this impressive disc won't disappoint. --Matthew Westphal