Il Trionfo Del Tempo E Del Dis
|1. Prima Parte|
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See all 27 tracks on this disc
|1. Seconda Parte|
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See all 28 tracks on this disc
Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno was the first of Handel's many oratorios. It was also the last, for half a century later he rewrote it with an English translation as The Triumph of Time and Truth. In between, he penned another rewrite with a chorus, and borrowed extensively from Il Trionfo for works that have become better known to listeners. In this absolutely sensational performance, the 22-year-old composer's initial offering sounds smashing. The text contains one of the debates about beauty, time, pleasure, and truth so ubiquitous among Baroque vocal texts, and the music peerlessly demonstrates the vivid imagination and skills of the young Handel. Rinaldo Alessandrini and his excellent ensemble bring us a swift-paced performance that never flags. The conductor also plays the organ continuo in a sonata that's said to be the first organ concerto ever written. Unlike all too many recordings of Baroque oratorios, the singing is outstanding. The solo quartet is led by Deborah York, whose bright soprano shines in coloratura passages. Gemma Bertagnolli's warmer soprano offers nice contrast and alto Sara Mingardo is marvelous, while tenor Nicholas Sears offers outstanding lyric singing. This is simply one of the best Handel oratorio recordings extant; it's not to be missed. --Dan Davis
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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'.
If I could only have one vocal Handel recording this would be it. It's no wonder that so many of these arias are slightly re-worked and find their place in Handel's future operas.
Here, you get them all and performed expertly by the singers and orchestra. The two working well together at all times.
Bravo, Mr. Alessandrini, encore!
You will *not* regret it.