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George Frideric HANDEL (1685–1759)
Operatic Duets
Poro (1731)
1. Duetto: Caro amico amplesso!  [2:06]
Rinaldo (1711)
Duetto: Scherzano sul tuo volto [3:43]
Rodelinda (1725)
3. Recitativo: Non ti bastò, consorte … Duetto: Io t’abbraccio [7:21]
Silla (1713)
4. Recitativo: Mio diletto, she pensi? … Duetto: Sol per te, bell’idol mio [5:58]
Sosarme (1732)
5. Duetto: Per le porte del tormento [7:45]
Faramondo (1737)
6. Recitativo: Del destin non mi lagno … Duetto: Caro, tu m’accendi [6:49]
Atalanta (1736)
7. Recitativo: Amarilli? … Duetto: Amarilli? Oh Dei! Che vuoi? [6:14]
Muzio Scevola (1721)
Duetto: Vivo senz’alma, o bella [2:35]
Orlando (1733)
9. Duetto: Finché prendi [2:01]
10. Recitativo: Perfidi! Ite di Poro … Cavatina: Se mai più sarò geloso [2:48]
11. Recitativo: Macedoni guerrieri … Aria: Se mai turbo il tuo riposo [5:42]
12. Sinfonia to Act 3 [0:58]
Serse (1738)
13. Duetto: Gran pena è gelosia! [1:49]
14. Recitativo: Lode agli Dei … Duetto: Se mai turbo il tuo riposo [6:20]
Admeto (1727)
15. Duetto: Alma mia, dolce ristoro [4:25]
Flavio (1723)
16. Duetto: Ricordati, mio ben [4:02]
Teseo (1713)
17. Duetto: Addio, mio caro bene [2:50]
Patrizia Ciofi (soprano); Joyce Di Donato (mezzo)
Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis (harpsichord)
rec. 14–19 June 2003, Montevarchi, Italy
Sung texts and English translations enclosed
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5181792 [73:35]


Experience Classicsonline

Still rather superb.
No. Forget the implied qualification; just still superb. Recorded in 2003 and first issued the following year this disc shows that Ciofi and Di Donato are something of a dream pairing. And with Alan Curtis at the harpsichord and directing Il Complesso Barocco, and with a sequence of ravishing – often lesser known - duets then you have a disc of Alpha status. Its reappearance here is greatly to be welcomed. 


What makes things so masterful is the combination of lithe and alert instrumental contributions, a vital harpsichord sound space, expressive or avid B sections, expertly realised tempo decisions, finely judged da capo ornaments and most of all the pairing of Ciofi’s superfine soprano with the castrato-intended roles taken by Di Donato’s fuller mezzo. The voices are powerfully complementary.


One should add a concentrated sense of characterisation to the brew. Note the urgency of the recitative in the sole example from Silla. And to amplify the matter of control of B sections, listen out for the elastic eloquence in Scherzano sul tuo volto from Rinaldo, an especially captivating example but just one among many. Similarly my reference to instrumental contributions could have been tailor made to describe the violin solo in Sosarme’s  Per le porte del tormento where the two singers’ phrasing is not simply warm and lyric but perfectly controlled. The sense of the natural arc of a phrase is something that comes over time and again in this recital; I can’t think of a single case where a phrase sounded ungainly or where a phrase ending tapered disappointingly. Natural buoyancy of rhythm helps but the overriding impression is of true musicality at work.


The voices fall over each other with precision and great naturalness in Atalanta’s Amarilli? Oh Dei! Che vuoi? where the sense of dramatic tension, once unleashed, remains constant to the very end. There are five extracts from Poro of which the highlight is Se mai turbo il tuo riposo with its opportunities for both reflective intiamcy and dcemonstrative assertion.


But really to showcase these particular examples is to render less than adequate praise to the recital as a whole.


Jonathan Woolf


see also Review by Göran Forsling




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