- Composer: Handel
- Audio CD (Aug. 16 2005)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Import
- Label: Nvv
- ASIN: B00004ZBLE
- In-Print Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
Il Trionfo Del Tempo E Del Dis Import
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|1. Seconda Parte|
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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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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.
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!
"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
Best advice - listen before you buy, & don't just rely on written reviews.