One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews
Symphony No 1
Portrait of Ned Kelly



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

September 2022
Nikolai Medtner
Herbert Blomstedt
Tarrodi Four Elements
Secret Love Letters
Lisa Batiashvili

August 2022

Louis Caix d'Hervelois

orchestral songs



String Quartets

la folia


Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I




CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Johann Adolf HASSE (1699 -1783)
Marc'Antonio e Cleopatra (1725) [89.50]
Marc'Antonio – Jamie Barton (mezzo)
Cleopatra – Ava Pine (soprano)
Ars Lyrica Houston/Matthew Dirst (conductor and harpsichord)
rec. 30-31 December 2009, 2 January 2010, Zilkha Hall Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Houston. TX
DORIAN SONO LUMINUS DSL-92115 [46.22 + 43.28]

Experience Classicsonline

Like Handel had done some years earlier, Johann Adolf Hasse left his native Germany in 1721 to gain some Italian polish, He eventually settled in Naples and studied with Porpora and Alessandro Scarlatti. In 1730 he moved to Dresden where he became Kapellmeister, married one of Handel's divas and the two became the power couple of late baroque opera.

During his Italian period Hasse produced seven operas, eight intermezzi and the serenatas. His serenata Marc'Antonio e Cleopatra was written for a Neapolitan banker in whose palace it was first performed in 1725. As a genre the serenata lay somewhere between the solo cantata and a full-length opera. Typically baroque serenatas set a familiar love story and form a sequence of short operatic scenes. Here the libretto is by poet and impresario Francesco Ricciardi. It starts with Marc'Antonio's defeat by Octavian, the two declare their love and rather than submit to Rome, agree on suicide.

But there is an element in the original casting which sheds a fascinating light on the difference between baroque attitudes and ours. The original singers were the castrato Farinelli and the contralto Victoria Tesi, but contrary to what we might expect Farinelli sang Cleopatra and Tesi sang Marc'Antonio. Such cross-casting was then common in Italy, as it helped emphasise the artificiality of the operatic genre. But castrati did not sing travesty roles in England, so we are less familiar with the idea.

On this recording from Ars Lyrica Houston, the two roles are sung by women with Jamie Barton as Marc'Antonio and Ava Pine as Cleopatra.

The serenata opens with a sinfonia with each half being formed from four arias and a duet. Each singer is allocated the same number of arias, preserving perfect balance. But in another respect there is a difference. The role of Marc'Antonio (originally sung by Tesi) has a sequence of lyric, galant arias but Cleopatra (sung by Farinelli) is given a sequence of wonderfully brilliant arias. It is Cleopatra which is the show-piece role. Hasse became renowned for delivering virtuoso arias which showed off and flattered the original singers’ voices.

Pine has quite a rich voice, she is no slim-voiced canary, but displays a lively sense of baroque style and is quite fearless in her way with Hasse's virtuosic vocal lines. She makes a strong, commanding queen. Barton has a Marilyn Horne-like voice and a nice way with the lyrical lines which Hasse has written for Marc'Antonio. Though there are moments when she sounds a little too careful, she is suitably love-lorn.

The piece is quite short, lasting a fraction under 90 minutes. But I did wonder whether the piece might have been fitted onto a single CD. Conductor Matthew Dirst takes the recitatives at an amazingly sedate pace, they are sedate and deliberate rather than dramatic; you certainly wouldn't want to hear an entire opera performed this way.

The serenata became quite famous in Hasse's lifetime, but this seems to be its first complete recording, so we must be thankful to Ars Lyrica Houston. It is an attractive and well made piece, but it does not mine the real depths of the characters’ emotions the way Handel could. Handel's Italian period produced such striking gems as his cantata Lucrezia which explores Lucrezia's emotional turmoil in depth; whereas Hasse seems to have been mainly concerned to show off his singers in the best light and perhaps flatter the audience.

Hasse's original accompaniment was for strings and continuo but Ars Lyrica have added some woodwind (oboes, recorders, flute and bassoon) to produce a rather effective piece. That said, you do wonder whether Hasse's original slimmer version might have been tighter and more dramatically incisive.

Under Matthew Dirst's capable direction Ars Lyrica and their soloists give a lively performance of a charming work. It brought fame to Hasse and is well worth encountering in this engaging performance.

Robert Hugill













































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


      Composer surveys
      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

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


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

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



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

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
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
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
Web Ring
Translation Service

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

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.