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Tall Poppies

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Italian Cantatas

Cuopre tal volta il cielo HWV 98
Tu fedel? Tu constante? HWV 171
Mi palpita il cor HWV 132c
Spande ancor a mio dispetto HWV 165
Amarilli vezzosa (il duello amoroso) HWV 82
Miriam Allan (soprano)
Christopher Field (alto)
Michael Leighton Jones (bass)
Catherine Shrugg (violin)
Nicole Forsythe (violin)
Robin Hillier (flute)
Rosanne Hunt (cello)
Samantha Cohen (theorbo)
Jacqueline Ogeil (harpsichord and director)
Recorded in the Carmelite Monastery, Kew, March and July 2004
TALL POPPIES TP 173 [70.35]


This is a generally very recommendable, slightly small-scale recording that comes with only one serious caveat and thatís the sound. The Carmelite Monastery, Kew has a very swimmy acoustic that the Tall Poppies engineers havenít been entirely successful in taming, with the result that there are acoustic shifts. Whether the performers were all too aware of this is a moot point but I suspect they were. Itís particularly noticeable in the opening bass cantata, Cuopre tal volta il cielo, where soloist Michael Leighton Jones is inclined to be a bit bluff in his delivery and doesnít employ quite enough light in the voice Ė inflections tend to be rather abrupt and in the second movement he breaks his divisions somewhat awkwardly. Iím not sure if this is a breath or tempo matter but the final Aria is much, much better. He has a light bass (verging toward baritone) but itís malleable and he is a truly musical singer despite one of two imperfections.

Tu fedel? Tu constante? is notable for the good solo violin and the soprano of Miriam Allan whose expressive agility is well deployed here though the work gives her less direct scope. The third singer, alto Christopher Field makes an equally attractive show in his cantata, Mi palpita il cor. His voice tends to be a touch veiled in the middle register but is very much more liquid at the top of his range, where it doesnít sound starved as a counter tenorís can. The soprano and alto duet cantata Amarilli vezzosa (il duello amoroso) shows the two voices in timbral accord Ė fluency, evenness of tone production, and real élan in the Aria Amarilli, quell nocchiero.

Jacqueline Ogeil leads Arcadia with sensitivity, giving her players opportunities for colour and rhythmic drive. Itís only the acoustic that lets down the disc Ė and then itís not a fatal drawback.

Jonathan Woolf


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