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George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Christiane Karg (soprano)
Romin Basso (mezzo)
Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis
rec. 5-7 May 2012, Villa San Fermi, Lonigo, Italy
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88875199812 [70:00]

When the new art-form opera was introduced around the turn of the century 1600, librettos were invariably based on classical mythology. More than a century later Handel also set various librettos to music where the myths were still the source of inspiration. On this disc we are treated to a number of arias, duets and some orchestral music from cantatas, serenades and operas, performed by two excellent singers. They are joined by the admirable ensemble Il Complesso Barocco under its founder Alan Curtis in what turned out to be his last Handel recording.

I have praised Christiane Karg on several occasions and she is absolutely stunning in her technical brilliance. Listen to her fluent coloratura in the Semele aria (tr. 4) or Dafne’s aria from Apollo e Dafne (tr. 6), where she is accompanied by plucked strings and has a dialogue with an obbligato oboe. Her mezzo-soprano colleague Romina Basso wasn’t completely unknown either. She appeared in a Galuppi opera on DVD (review) some seven years ago, and in the mad scene from Hercules, Where shall I fly? (tr. 5) her coloratura is just as secure. They come together in the long duet from Atalanta (tr. 7) and again in the powerful duet from Arianna in Creta (tr. 11). The final tracks are from Echeggiate, festeggiate numi eterni (tr. 13-14) and their duet there makes a glorious end to this fascinating programme. Il Complesso Barocco I heard on their own in the overture and a gavotte from Semele, where the playing is riveting as befits this ensemble who have been playing together since 1979. I don’t know why it took more than four years to issue this disc, but now that it is available it is a golden opportunity for lovers of the baroque to complete their collections. A lot of the content is rarely heard but readers can rest assured that the quality of the music is uniformly high. Rarely heard Handel is still Handel and he rarely disappoints.

Gran Forsling
Track listing
Parnasso in festa (Parnasso in festa per li sponsali di Teti e Peleo), HWV 73
1. Aria: Gi le furie vedo ancor (Calliope) [1:46]
2. Accompagnato: Dopo d’aver perduto il caro bene (Orfeo) [0:53]
3. Aria: Ho perso il caro ben (Orfeo) [6:40]
Semele, HWV 58, Musical drama in three parts:
4. Aria: No, no, I’ll take no less (Semele) [5:22]
Hercules, HWV 60, Musical drama in three acts:
5. Where shall I fly? (Dejanira’s Mad Scene) [5:54]
Apollo e Dafne (La terra liberate), HWV 122, Cantata:
6. Aria: Felicissima quest’alma (Dafne) [5:42]
Atalanta, HWV 35, Pastoral opera in three acts.
7. Duet: Caro/Cara, nel tuo bel volto (Atalanta and Meleagro) [7:39]
Semele, HWV 58:
8. Overture: Maestoso – allegro – Adagio [7:17]
9. Gavotte (act I) [2:45]
10. Aria: Come Zephyrs, come (Cupid) [5:57]
Arianne in Creta, HWV 32, Opera seria in three acts:
11. Recitativo and duet: Bell’idolo amato / Deh, tci crudel (Arianna and Teseo) [3:57]
Partenope, HWV 27, Opera in three acts:
12. Aria: Voglio amare infin ch’io moro (Partenope) [6:33]
Echeggiate, festeggiate numi eterni, HWV 119
(Io languisco fra le gioie), Cantata:
13. Aria: Echeggiate (Giove) [3:57]
14. Duet: Non pi barbaro furore (Minerva and Giove) [4:53]

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