Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 


 REVIEW


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: Crotchet


George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
La Resurrezione (1708) [112.12]
Angel - Camilla Tilling (soprano)
Mary Magdalene - Kate Royal (soprano)
Mary Cleofas - Sonia Prina (contralto)
St. John the Evangelist - Toby Spence (tenor)
Lucifer - Luca Pisaroni (bass)
Le Concert d’Astrée/Emanuelle Haim
rec. live, Opera de Lille, 15, 17, 19 April, 2009
VIRGIN CLASSICS 6945670 [62.22 + 49.50] 
Experience Classicsonline


Handel’s oratorio La Resurrezione was written whilst he was staying in Rome in 1708. It was written for one of his major patrons, Marchese Francesco Maria Ruspoli, for whom Handel also wrote a number of cantatas. The oratorio was performed as part of a sequence of Lenten oratorio performances organised by Ruspoli. Though oratorio in name, it is in effect a rather static sacred opera and was written to get round the ban on opera then in place in Rome.

It was performed in lavish static settings in Prince Ruspoli's Palazzo. Ruspoli engaged a huge orchestra (21 violins, 5 double-basses) of which the 23 year old Handel took full advantage. In fact we only know of the extra musicians that Rusopoli paid for, his house musicians probably played as well giving an even bigger orchestra; though on this new recording from Emmanuelle Haim and Le Concert d’Astrée, the orchestra is slightly smaller, with 10 violins and just 1 double-bass.

The plot, such as it is, interleaves Christ's Harrowing of Hell with the activities on earth between his Crucifixion and Resurrection. Christ himself never appears; neither does his mother, though both are referred to in the libretto - by the court poet of ex-Queen Christina of Sweden, then living in Rome. The opera opens with a spectacular aria for the Angel (Camilla Tilling), with a descending phrase almost describing his/her descent into Hell. From then on Christ's Harrowing of Hell and his triumph over Death are described in a series of duologues between the Angel and Lucifer (Luca Pisaroni).

Back on earth, Mary Magdalene (Kate Royal) and Mary Cleophas (Sonia Prina) both lament Christ's loss and have various degrees of trust in his return. Magdalene was written for Margherita Durastantini, one of Handel's long time supporters, but she could only sing one performance; the Pope objected and she was replaced by a castrato - no women allowed. Magdalene gets most of the show's hit numbers and is probably the most fully rounded character. Kate Royal is sexily attractive in the role though I was rather troubled by her manner of squeezing the notes. Used in a limited fashion this mannerism can provide a gorgeous, sexy quality, but here she seemed to over do things. Sonia Prina is wonderfully dark voiced as Mary Cleophas, though in her fast numbers her tight vibrato tends to occlude her passage-work somewhat. She sings with great brilliance and she copes well with some of Haim’s brisk tempi. Prina has a lovely dark voice, which contrasts well with Royal’s higher instrument. But Prina’s vibrato can sometimes rather cloud her passagework.

The two women are comforted by St. John (Toby Spence) whose great confidence in Christ's forthcoming resurrection is indicated by his series of trusting, pastoral arias - no trouble and questing here. The problem is that nothing actually happens, the three simply lament and recount. We don't even get St. John's encounter with the Virgin, he simply reports it. The language is a little over-heated at times which does not help the drama.

Toby Spence sings St. John’s music with a beautifully intimate tone, which entirely suits that pastoral nature of this music. Handel’s orchestration is ravishing and here ravishingly realised by Haim and her forces. Again, its not their fault that I want more edge to the part.

Camilla Tilling’s Angel is technically quite brilliant in the faster passages and provides some rather lovely line in the quieter passages. My main problem with her is that her voice is a little too vibrato laden for my taste and her coloratura lacks the pin-point accuracy that I like in this repertoire. But it might be argued that my tastes are based on the more English sound of singers like Emma Kirkby who are not necessarily idiomatic in this repertoire.

As the villain, Lucifer, Luca Pisaroni sings with superb aplomb, using his rather attractively grainy bass voice to good effect, though his runs do sound rather laboured. And it’s not his fault that he never actually gets to do anything in the oratorio - his part is all reportage.

In fact, most of the singers on this disc come from the younger cadre of singers who are comfortable in period performance as well as later repertoire. This is admirable in terms of vocal agility and sympathy to different performing styles. But this has drawbacks as well; on this disc I found that the women in particular brought to their roles a continuous use of significant vibrato that I found intrusive at times. Tilling’s way with the passage-work in her role seems to differ stylistically little from the way she would tackle early 19th century Italian opera. Of course, this might just be me being prejudiced. But Haim has shown a preference in the past for working with singers from more traditional backgrounds and her style seems to be to integrate more modern vocal styles with period performance. The results are entirely creditable, admirable and not a little charming. But they are not always what I would want in a performance of the work.

One of the greatest charms of La Resurrezione is Handel’s ever-vivid orchestration. He was clearly showing off and provided with a patron who could afford it, took every advantage of a variety of instruments. St. John’s arias are frequently simple continuo arias and these brilliantly set off the more exotic ones for the other characters. Mary Magdalene has an accompagnato written for two recorders and viola da gamba. Mary Cleophas’s ‘Naufragando va per l’onde’ has dizzying runs for oboes and strings along with a beautiful plaintive middle section written using the same scoring - Handel showing off his versatility again.

Handel never performed the work again. Instead it became a source book for other works, bits of it cropping not only in his Italian period opera Agrippina but also in his London operas (Rinaldo, Il Pastor Fido), the Water Music as well as the oratorios. 

The piece has been recorded a few times, but there are not as many versions in the catalogue as you might expect given the music’s delightful brilliance. Mark Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre recorded it in 1996 with Annick Massis and Jennifer Smith; Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music with Emma Kirkby and Patrizia Kwella.

The discs were recorded live, but there is admirably little evidence of that in audience coughing - or reaction. It sounds live though, in that we get a wonderful dramatic immediacy from the singers. The booklet includes a fine article by David Vickers giving full historical background and texts in Latin and English (plus French and German); by today’s standards the CD production values are lavish.

Haim and her band brilliantly bring off Handel’s orchestrations and the instrumental contributions are some of the great attractions of this disc. Time and again my ear was drawn away from the voices to the lovely instrumental contributions. Many people will be entirely happy with this disc and it is brilliantly produced. It is just the vocal style which still nags at me and I will always want to have Emma Kirkby standing by to give me an entirely different view of this repertoire.

Robert Hugill

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.