Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

MOZART, GLUCK and HANDEL - Italian operatic arias   David Daniels (countertenor) with Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Harry Bicket. Virgin Classics Veritas VC5453652. [61'10"]

Save around 22% with
Amazon US



(Comparisons: Angelo Manzotti & James Bowman)

David Daniels is prominent amongst the new generation of counter tenors, and he took the title role of Handel's Rinaldo with Cecilia Bartoli in the recent performances at The Barbican (recorded afterwards for CD release in due course). I was not so bowled over there as some colleagues; preferring the bass-baritone Nathan Berg to either of those stars for his musicianship - see my review in S&H, November 1999, with my strong recommendation for the Hyperion Schubert Edition Vol. 29  [CDJ33029] in which he features with the wonderful 'mezzo-contralto' Marjana Lipovsek (yes, I meant that!).

Here are arias from Tolomeo & Partenope (Handel); Telemaco and Orfeo ed Euridice (Gluck) and Midriate and Ascanio (Mozart). The first was breathless rather than excitingly virtuosic; there are some strained flourishes, despite editing, and Gluck's Che faro, taken rather fast, was not moving, and certainly not competitive set against a field with several great performances.

In my experience, the male alto voice in its various manifestations (David Daniels is an alto musico according to the notes here) is vulnerable to close studio miking, and I find him less convincing here than heard live. Daniels' voice is soft grained and his rather generalised fast vibrato quickly becomes wearing - these arias are, in any case, better taken in small groups. I enjoyed greatly the lively, stylish accompaniment by the OAE under Harry Bicket, which often drew my attention away from the soloist!

Full texts and translations and an informative introduction are included. Individual tastes vary; with many people still uncomfortable with men singing high. So this is a CD to sample if possible before purchase. Finally, I have to record disappointment.

I have made some comparisons from my collection. Angelo Manzotti, the rediscovered Italian sopranista, was quite spectacular at his British debut (concert performance, but in full costume!) but his CD is very patchy (Bongiovanni GB 5566-2). Wait for his next one. For a bench-mark, I return to the near-veteran James Bowman (still singing superbly) whose experience and innate musicianship tells; try his Handel recital on Hyperion with The King's Consort, an object lesson for his (much) younger contenders [CDA 66797].


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

Reviews from previous months

Reviews carry sales links but you can also purchase from:

Return to Index