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Handel: Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno [Import]

Natalie Dessay , Ann Hallenberg , Sonia Prina , Pavol Breslik , George Frideric Handel , et al. Audio CD

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Disc: 1
1. Overture
2. Aria : "Fido specchio" (Bellezza)
3. Recit.: "Io che sono il Piacere" (Bellezza/Piacere)
4. Aria: "Fosco genio, e nero duolo" (Piacere)
5. Recit.: "Ed io, che'l Tempo sono" (Disinganno/Tempo)
6. Aria: "Se la Bellezza perde vaghezza" (Disinganno)
7. Recit.:"Dunque si predan l'armi" (Bellezza/Piacere)
8. Aria: "Una schiera de piaceri" (Bellezza)
9. Recit.: "I colossi del sol" (Tempo)
10. Aria: "Urne voi, che racchiudete" (Tempo)
See all 27 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Recit.: "Se del faso Piacere" (Tempo)
2. Aria: "Chiudi, chiudi vaghi rai" (Piacere)
3. Recit.: "In tre parti divise" (Tempo)
4. Aria: "Io sperai trovar nel vero" (Bellezza)
5. Recit.: "Tu vivi invan dolente" (Piacere)
6. Aria: "Tu giurasti di mai non lasciarmi" (Piacere)
7. Recit.: "Sguardo, che inferno ai rai" (Tempo)
8. Aria: "Io vorrei due cori in seno" (Bellezza)
9. Recit.: "Io giurerei, che tu chiudesti" (Bellezza)
10. Aria: "Più non cura" (Disinganno)
See all 28 tracks on this disc

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph for Haim, Dessay, Hallenberg, Prina, Breslik & le Concert l'Astrée Aug. 2 2007
By cnomad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This early allegorical oratorio (written by Georg Frideric Händel at a mere 22 while on an Italian sojourn) already shows the inventiveness of this genius (and one can understand why the composer cannibalised the work for his later compositions). The libretto is no more than a poetic and moralistic conversation among its four allegorical personae, all individually characterised by the singers all armed with marvellous technique and emotional expression: Bellezza/Beauty (French soprano Natalie Dessay) is fought over by Piacere/Pleasure (Swedish mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg) on one side, keeping her enticed with the joys of present "superficial" and pleasurable pursuits, and Enlightenment/Disinganno (Italian contralto Sonia Prina) and Tempo/Time (Slovakian tenor Pavol Breslik) on the other. Of course, the libretto having been written by Händel's pal, the Cardinal, Benedetto Pamphili, it's inevitable that the "virtuous" personae of Enlightenment and Time will win in the end, and Beauty agrees to take on the hairshirt and do penance for enjoying life too much. And yet, the irony of it all is that the very music Händel wrote for this oratorio will bring such pleasures to its hearers and would likely draw the disapproval of Time and Enlightenment for its "corrupting" beauty!

The work is performed with spirit and verve as well as sensitivity by the singers, guided by Baroque conductor Emmanuelle Haïm directing her Le Concert d'Astrée playing on period instruments. Although her over-bright soprano took some getting used to by me, Dessay becomes simply delightful in her very many arias (about nine of them, by my last count), with coloratura passages as in "Un pensiero nemico di piace", "Della vita mortale" and "Un schiera di Piacere", all joyfully rendered and proving of little difficulty for her agile technique. Hallenberg gets to deploy her magnificent, incandescent mezzo in the work's most beautiful and famous arias, including the exquisitely languourous "Lascia la spina", the courtly "Un leggiadro giovinetto", and the furious "Tu giurasti di mai non lasciarmi" and "Come nombe che fugge col vento." Prina brings a measure of majesty to arias like "Più non cura" and "Crede l'uom chegli riposi", entrancing you with her dark, smooth and warm alto, with some impressive virtuosic runs in the middle of the latter aria. Finally, Breslik holds his own among the women as the authoritative and father-like chastising figure of Tempo, with his expressive and textured vocal that's hard to ignore, as in his affecting "Urne voi". On the ensemble pieces, the singers all blend together superbly, and one can get a taste of that excitement in the YouTube music video featuring the quartet singing the exhilarating "Voglio Tempo".

Additionally, director Haïm plays a mean organ on several tracks, with excellent sonata-like passages on "Taci: Qual sono ascolto?" and "Un leggiadro giovinetto". She's actually made this organ-leery listener more appreciative of that instrument.

This is a most welcome addition to the growing recorded Händel repertoire, and one highly recommended to anyone already a Händel fan, or one just starting to learn about the Baroque master's works.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasure reigns supreme. July 9 2012
By Anna Shlimovich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
"Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno" is an early work of Handel, composed in 1707 and already displaying his very distinct style that is audible with his cantatas, some of which are written by the libretto and for the same Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili Le Cantate per il Cardinal Pamphili (Le cantate italiane di Handel, 1), just as this masterwork. The accompanied booklet of this recording mentions that this is the first work of Handel where he displayed significant borrowing from other composers, referring specifically to pieces from operas of Reinhard Keiser, Handel's musical director and teacher during his time in Hamburg.

But even without knowing of Keiser, what strikes a listener in the music of "Il Trionfo" is the unmistakable influence of a more popular Vivaldi; this is especially evident in certain places such as in Bellezza's aria "Un pensiero nemico di pace" (CD1, track 14). I am quite sure that if this aria was played to an unsuspecting audience, most would attribute it to the author of the ubiquitous "Quattro Stagione" - indeed his signature is as eminent there as in any of his 400+ operas (a record Handel did not beat). Another aria drawn from Vivaldi is "Piu non cura" - Disinganno sings this (CD2, track 10). But what differs Handel from Vivaldi is a greater range of genius or expression; the variety of moods, nuances and tempi is what makes Handel's music superior to Vivaldi's, although this variety can be attributed again to the extensive borrowing. Perhaps Vivaldi would have been as cherished as Handel in his time and as respected today if he had done some Handel-style re-use of other composers' ideas, but alas... obviously il Prete Rosso was not such a talented and sophisticated courtier as Il Caro Sassone.

Nevertheless, this oratorio shows various styles in composition; going back to Reinhard Keiser, I was surprised to learn from the booklet that such a quintessentially Handel's music as the Disinganno's aria "Crede l'uom ch'egli riposi" (CD 1, track 23) owes completely to Keiser's "Ruhig sein" from his opera "Octavia" (1705). I have heard this theme in many of his operas/oratorios, for example, in "Jerusalem, thou shalt no more" from Athalia (an oratorio written 30 years after Il Trionfo) and always admired Handel's genius for this elevating, shining music; yet it is Keiser's! I think he was able to get away with all this because Rome, where this work was composed, was too far from Hamburg at his time, although in Florence his "borrowing" was already well-known and much discussed in Ferdinando de Medici circles, which included composers Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti, Giacomo Antonio Perti, Giovanni Legrenzi, Benedetto Marcello and others.

All in all, Handel had perused material from seven (!!!) Keiser's operas in his triumphal Trionfo. We can only regret that not much Keiser's works are available today, while they probably deserve much attention since Handel found them so worthy.

Obviously the composer returned to Il Trionfo's score many times - his all-time hit "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Rinaldo is found here in Il Trionfo as Piacere's aria "Lascia la spina", and the final aria of Bellezza "Tu del Ciel ministro eletto" have transferred practically without any change to Angelica's aria "Ritornava al suo bel viso" from "Orlando". In the comments section of this review I provide a link to this splendid aria.

Finally, there is also the French style that is presented in pieces like Piacere's aria " Chiudi, chiudi I vaghi rai" (CD2, track 2) - it must be this distinct style that made Arcangelo Corelli, a virtuoso violinist playing Il Trionfo in concerts, refer to Il Trionfo's overture as written in the French style (Handel had rewritten the overture and we hear today the "Italian" style of it).

Another thing that distinguishes the work is the amazingly high quality of intelligence in the libretto. These are all good old friends the Arcadians who devoted their lives to enlightenment (coincidentally, Disinganno!) and refinement, they sought Bellezza and Piacere in discoursing sublime philosophical ideas on Aristotelean level, one could say, and they truly reveled in their exclusivity of thought.

A mere 100 years later sugary-soupy dramas of Rossini/Bellini/Donizetti would dominate the scene, but again the works of those composers were written to please the growing number of wealthy bourgeoisie, while Handel composed for the elite and already shrinking circle of the most refined aristocracy. We are fortunate to sample pieces from the Arcadians' feast, as truly this music is probably the pinnacle of its art, with the decline starting from Beethoven and even Mozart not far.

I love that this work, as many others that Handel wrote, is so removed from reality and talks about all things unmaterial and celestial; truly it is difficult not to envisage a Tiziano's picture "Profane and Celestial Love", which is in Villa Borghese; while Benedetto Pamphili lived not that far away in a much more opulent palace known today as Palazzo Doria-Pamphili, still privately owned (!!!) and housing incomparable works of art, like Caravaggio's "Caravaggio Flight to Egypt" or Velasquez "Portrait of Pope Innocent X", among other outstanding works by Brueghel, Durer, Guido Reni, Claude Lorrain, etc., not to mention the amazing galleries and the overall architecture...no wonder that he considered himself expert enough in beauty and pleasure to write about their dangerous effects on reason, a.k.a enlightenment, and was rich enough to employ composers who immortalized Pamphili's name through the beauty and pleasure of their works.

Musically, the rendition is superb. Natalie Dessay as Bellezza is marvelous, with her somewhat childish, chirping tone, suggesting utmost youth accompanied by joy and self-possessed pleasure, so marvelously sung by a lower tessitura of a mezzo Ann Hallenberg. On the second thought, a more clear and instrumental voice like Sandrine Piau could be more suited for the purity of Baroque style... The wise disillusioned Disinganno is superbly cast by an alto Sonia Prina, and Tempo by a thrilling voice of Pavol Breslik. I think these are some of the best voices available today to create a magnificent Il Trionfo that truly triumphs under the baton of Emmanuelle Haim. I was not much enamored by her for her work with Natalie Dessay on Cleopatra's album Handel : Cleopatra - Giulio Cesare Opera Arias, but here Mme. Haim created a true gem of Baroque music.

Once more I'd like to stress that the most effect is achieved when the text is read or understood, because although so very serious, it is also secretly mischievous, and some images it creates for the great effect, like "the funeral urns full of many beauty's skeletons", are quite funny, reminding of a once fashionable British funeral humor. I can imagine the Arcadians, leisuring out in the most glorious garden of the Queen Christina's splendid residence Palazzo Corsini, in the most magnificent city of all, under the balmy Roman sun, basking in indescribable luxury, pleasantly discussing grave subjects as cold bones devoured by Time, brevity of life and imminent departure from its pleasures that fatum so generously poured on them, chosen lucky ones. Well, we can take pleasure in some of the beauty they have left to us till today, as this music.

Highly recommended.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I hoped Sept. 5 2007
By G. Rodger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
While Dessay gives a lovely performance as Bellezza, and Hallenberg is fine as Piacere, the tenor and alto absolutely do not. The tenor bottoms out on a number of occasions, and while I love Sonia Prina in other recordings, she is not really a true alto. She also hits bottom, and on the occasions that Tempo and Disinganno are paired the voices fail completely to match. Such a pity. Tempos are too variable for me--the fast is a little fast at times and the slow drags and is missing energy. Such a disappointment. I bought this mostly because I was interested to see what Prina would make of this role, but I much prefer the older Minkowski recording with Nathalie Stutzmann, a true alto, as Disinganno and John Elwes as Tempo. The voices of these singers match so closely in their duet Il pianto dell'aurora that it is difficult to tell which singer is which--their unisons are exquisite. Prina and Breslik on the same piece do not work at all well. She is not only out-matched but the unisons barely sound.--she is much more comfortable at the octave. Prina does not sound good here, a severe disappointment after her fabulous performance as Megacle on the Naive recording of Vivaldi's L'Olympiade. I thought she had bottom notes, but alas no.

The quartet at the end of the first disc is also incredibly disappointing. There is no energy here. And this despite some, at times, overly prolific ornamentation from all of these singers in earlier tracks. The second quartet is better but is too fast and the interplay of the vocal lines is lost in the rush, particularly the relationship between the alto and tenor. Prina is completely overwhelmed in this quartet and can barely be heard--hard in this context to believe that Disinganno could possibly triumph by the end of this.

The Minkowski disc is long out of print now, and very hard to get. It took me a good year to track one down on ebay, but it was well worth the wait and if I had to recommend a recording I'd still choose Minkowski over all others. I don't know the Alessandrini recording but am generally not a huge fan of Mingardo (my own quirkiness, I'm sure, but I'm just not crazy about her voice, especially at the bottom of her range, which also promises much but fails to deliver).
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Performance Sept. 4 2007
By Richard E. Undeland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The 22 year old Handel's "Il Trionfo..." is an amazingly early effort in the oratorio form, made necessary at least in part by the Church's injunction against opera. It has movement, interplay of ideas and music, in one fine solo, duet or ensemble piece after the other. Like his later oratorios, Messiah excepted, it has considerable impact, though the story line is hardly dramatic in nature. It is Handel's genius that makes it work so well, giving the individual parts distinctive character and variety. Moreover, has anyone written more felicitously for the human voice than this composer, and he did most of it in his second and third languages?

Under the sure hand of Emanuelle Haim, the performance has, to my ear, fine pace, which helps bring out the best in both the four singers and the instrumentalists, and the latter are far more than just accompaniests. Perhaps Natalie Dessay lovely and precise singing of the Bellezza role should be singled out among he vocalists, but the other three -- Ann Hallberg as Piacre, Sonia Prina as Disinganno and Pavol Breslik at Tempo -- are fully up to the damands of their parts, and these demands are large. In contrast with his other oratorios, there is no chorus.

"Il Trionfo" is a Handel work that deserves to be hard more often, particularly when in the hands of such accomplished musicians.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something Old as Something Very New June 7 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Coming upon works unfamiliar in the repertoire is usually (and in this case very much) a pleasure. Admittedly this listener bought this recording because it is one of the few opportunities to hear the beauty of Slovakian tenor Pavol Breslik's voice. He just completed a run of performances in the LA Phil production of Don Giovanni and his vocal talent displayed in his interpretation of Don Ottavio was one of the many highlights of the performances. His is a rich, subtly ranging tenor that soars on command but is also able to travel the trills and filigree of Baroque opera.

This recording is a very strong one, though the work itself is a bit strange/naïve. Simply stated, `Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno' (`The Triumph of Time and Truth') is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel produced in three different versions across 50 years of his career. This is Handel's very first oratorio, to a libretto by Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili and with a title that translates as "The Triumph of Time and Dis-illusion". The work concerns the intricate relations between four abstract characters: Tempo or Time (Pavol Breslik) and Disinganno or Enlightenment (Sonia Prina), and their offspring, Piacere orPleasure (Ann Hallenberg) and Bellezza or Beauty (Natalie Dessay). Emmanuelle Haïm conducts Le Concert d'Astree. Each of the soloists is of the first rank and the collaboration with Haïm makes this early Handel work a most memorable one. Hopefully there will be more performances of the Oratorio cum Cantata cum Opera after the public spends time with this recording. It is a delight! Grady Harp, June 12
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