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Il Trionfo Del Tempo

Concerto Italiano , Rinaldo Alessandrini , Haendel Georg Friedrich Audio CD

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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handel's Italian Triumph Aug. 26 2008
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (The Triumph of Time and Disillusionment) was the first composition by the young Georg Friedrich Haendel (1685-1759) of such scope and magnificence that it must be considered one of his indispensable masterpieces. Written in Rome by the twenty-two year old Saxon, conducted in its premiere by Corelli, the work was never to be forgotten by its creator. Handel lengthened and modified portions of it in 1737 in London, under the title Il Trionfo del Tempo e della Verita, and reworked it with an English libretto as the final effort of his life, with the title The Triumph of Truth and Beauty. If you happen to have other recordings of any of the three versions, you might as well give them to your local library; after you hear this performance by `Concerto Italiano', it's unlikely that you'll listen to any other ever again.

Like the brilliant smaller cantatas Handel composed in his Roman years (there are three recent recordings of such works by `La Risonanza', of surpassing beauty), Il Trionfo is 100% in the Italian manner, bursting with vocal exuberance and athleticism, utterly passionate, yet underneath the pyrotechnics one finds the profound structural mastery of counterpoint that the Saxon brought with him from Germany. Handel was, dare I say, the greatest Italian composer of the 18th Century. He was obviously also the greatest English composer of the 18th Century. Listening to his Italian triumphs, however, I find myself wishing he'd stayed in Rome and never removed his art to stuffy Calvinist England. Superb as his English music would be, there was something in the air in Italy that might have pushed him to even greater artistic accomplishments.

Despite its title, the real triumph of the oratorio belongs to Beauty, sung with enthralling loveliness by Deborah York, whose arias soar above even the pyrotechnics of Pleasure, Time, and Disillusionment. Beauty has the last word, by the way, the final aria, which has to be one of the most surprising conclusions of any oratorio ever written, both musically and textually. The other singers - soprano Gemma Bertagnoli, alto Sara Mingardo, and tenor Nicholas Sears - are all equally flawless in technique, and all possess naturally beautiful voices, the chief prerequisite for Italian vocal music then and now.

No one ever utilized oboes more effectively than Handel. In the orchestra upon which the singers are borne aloft in triumph, it's the oboes that most often take the melodic lead and that perform the most breathtaking obbligatos. Kudos need to be awarded to the organ also, which emerges as an obbligato instrument in several arias; it's almost certain that Handel himself played the organ in the Roman premiere. And let's not forget the bassoon, played here by Paola Frezzato. It's a classic bassoon romp; I wish I'd played it myself.

There was no chorus in the first, Roman, edition of this Il Trionfo, and thus none in this performance. The biggest changes Handel would make in London would be to add choruses. To my ears, that was an error of taste occasioned by audience expectations. The cascades of vocal virtuosity that dominate this triumph don't need the gravity of choruses. If some of the arias sound awfully familiar, by the way, it's because Handel incorporated many of them in later operas and oratorios.

Conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini has done everything right this time. It's startling to me, as a veteran of the Early Music revival, how suddenly and undeniably Italian singers and instrumentalists such as Alessandrini have emerged as the most artful and exciting performers of Baroque music, stealing the Gold from the Northerners.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original Version (of 3); Excellent Performance Sept. 3 2007
By Paul Van de Water - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
"Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno" (The Triumph of Time and Dis-Illusion) is often called Handel's first oratorio, although it is more a large-scale Italian cantata or serenata, like "Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo" or "Apollo e Dafne." Handel wrote this, the original, version of the work during his formative stay in Italy in 1707. He produced a second Italian-language version ("Il Trionfo del Tempo e della Verita," or The Triumph of Time and Truth) for London in 1737. At the end of his life, Handel produced a third, English version--"The Triumph of Time and Truth."

"Il Trionfo" comprises a moralistic debate between the allegorical characters Beauty, Pleasure, Time, and Dis-Illusion. The story carries little interest, but Handel's music is ravishing.

This 2007 reissue (recorded in 2000) is clearly the best recording of the first version--especially at its two-disc-for-one bargain price. The singers, period instrumentalists, and recording are all first-rate.

There's a very good recording of the second version available on Naxos (conducted by J.C. Martini) and an excellent recording of the final version on Hyperion (with Emma Kirkby and others, conducted by Denys Darlow). I enjoy all three. Forced to choose, however, my favorite is the last one.

Paul N. Van de Water
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential June 1 2008
By St. Mym - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There is not a single duff piece in this early oratorio, and I cannot conceive of a better performance than it gets here. This is possibly the most glorious available recording of anything in the baroque repertoire. You can hear all the excitement that Handel must have felt on his exposure to the italian musical scene.

Buy it.

You will *not* regret it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I could take just one Handel recording to a desert island.. Aug. 3 2009
By WHM - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
..then this is the one! If I try to use words to describe the beauty and perfection of this oratorio, only superlatives pop into my mind. "Breathtakingly dramatic, ravishingly beautiful, deeply moving, wonderfully coloured, fresh, immediate, brilliant" to quote a British critic about this work. For more superlatives, see the previous reviews. This is spectacular Handel indeed, and the four singers and Alessandrini's Concerto Italiano perform it as spectacularly as anyone might want.

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno ("The Triumph of Time and Disillusionment") is one of Handel's earliest masterpieces. Composed in 1707 for Cardinal Pamphili, Handel's patron and librettist in Rome, it's only recently that this work has attracted the interest and praise that it so much deserves. It's an allegorical drama about Belleza (Beauty), Piacere (Pleasure), Tempo (Time), and Disinganno (Disillusionment). Beauty undergoes a spiritual crisis in having to choose between carnal pleasure and godlike virtue. As one would predict, Beauty and Pleasure lose the battle to Time and Disillusionment..

The glorious sequence of arias and ensembles includes the famous 'Lascia la spina' (later recycled in Rinaldo as 'Lascia ch'io pianga'), played here at a brisk tempo to great effect, and Beauty's exquisite final `Tu del Ciel ministro eletto'. Handel borrowed various arias from Il Trionfo for later works, such as Agrippina, Giulio Cesare and Rodelinda. This testifies to the pride which Handel must have felt for this oratorio. Soprano Deborah York (Beauty) and contralto Sarah Mingardo (Disillusionment) are the unsurpassed star singers here, but soprano Gemma Bertagnolli and tenor Nicolas Sears are a very good match (although Bertagnolli's voice sounds slightly strained here and there). Every aria is a marvel; but, if forced to choose, my absolute favorites are: 'Un pensiero' and 'Tu del Ciel' by Deborah York, 'Crede l'uom' by Sarah Mingardo and, above all, the breathtaking quartetto 'Voglio Tempo'.

I also listened to the recording by Emmanuelle Haïm, but Alessandrini's version is by far the superior performance. If you love Handel and don't own this recording yet, don't waste a second getting hold of it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa - how very true! Aug. 2 2012
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is on the whole a splendid recording of the first oratorio of G F Handel, written in the early Italian years of the then young composer.
The music itself is very good - so good that the aria of Pleasure, 'Lascia la spina', was later recycled in the opera 'Rinaldo' as 'Lascia chi'o pianga'.
Rinaldo Alessandrini, in this first Handel recording of his, hired two British Handel 'specialists' to perform the roles of Beauty and Time respectively. British soprano Deborah York took the yoke of this performance as Beauty, singing almost half of the solo arias. Close up running to her is the character of Pleasure, sung here by Italian soprano Gemma Bertagnoli.
Alessandrini gave a well-thought out interpretation of this work, and the instrumental parts are truly sublime (listen to the terrific three-movement overture).
The instrumentation of Handel in this work truly demonstrates the genius that he was as they are being wonderfully woven with the vocal parts throughout the different recitatives and arias.
The story is deathly simple. The characters invovled are four representations of Beauty (soprano), Pleasure (boy soprano), Illusion (contralto) and Time (tenor). Beauty is lured by the boy Pleasure, with Illusion and Time offering timeous counselling.
The four soloists are very capable singers, particularly York and Mingardo, truly top-grained baroque specialists. The tenor Nicholas Sears is also highly competent.
The only quibble that I have with this recording is the not too successful combination of the voices of Beauty and Pleasure. While Beauty is supposedly a young girl and Pleasure a young man (boy), the choice of soprano voices for these characters in this casting left clear room for better choices.
York owns a crystalline timbre, one that excels in baroque repertoire, and she sings impeccably here, modulating her timbre to the different moods of the many arias. Her performance here is a real success. That said, coupling with her as Pleasure is Bertagnoli, whose soprano I am unable, in this recording at least, to recommend unreservedly.
Bertagonli's singing is at times wimpy and at times flat, with buccal vowels (just listen to that word 'pensiEr' to savour her dead-flat 'e' vowel) rendering her singing whitisth most of the time.
And the misfortune is that her timbre has a certain similarity with York's. As the tracks flow on the player, one gets mixed up who is Pleasure and who is Beauty, with Pleasure soiling Beauty in more casual listenings (without resorting to the libretto). This is a grave injustice to York, and scarcely a bonus to the entire recording.
As I said in my caption, however, 'leave the thorns; pluck the rose'.

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