In 2009 the music world celebrates the 250th anniversary of Georg Friedich Handel's death.
"Caro Amor" presents on 2 CDs the most beautiful and expressive arias from his most famous operas and oratorios, performed by the best in their field: Ian Bostridge ("Ombra mai fu", "Where'er you walk"), Maria Bayo ("Lascia ch'io pianga"), Vesselina Kasarova ("Caro Amor"), Nuria Rial and Lawrence Zazzo ("Alma mia, dolce ristoro", "Caro amico amplesso"), Angelika Kirchschlager ("Qui d'Amor," "Scherza Infida","Cara Spem"), Marijana Mijanovic ("Qual nave smarrita"), Annette Dasch ("Ah Crudele") and instrumental gems, played by Gabor Boldoczki ("Arrival of the Queen of Sheba"), Il Complesso Barocco, Kammerorchester Basel, etc. The double CD will be released as a high quality 2 CD digipak with a very attractive cover and is the right product for the many fans of beautiful Baroque music.
Rinaldo by G.F. Handel, first performed on 27th February 1711 in London, belongs to the short but rich series of operas on magical subjects that the composer produced between 1710 and 1735. Both the musical and dramatic material of the opera are handled in eighteenth century fashion, especially evident in the arias which are succesful in melodic as well as in psychological terms and in the"recitativo secco"which Is perfectly cantabile, though often much reduced since the opera's English audience would have found the Italian text incomprehensible. We should not however overlook the eighteenth century mould of the general organisation of the work. The material Itself, supernatural and fantastic, entails a somewhat lightweight aspect in situations and characteristics which are only apparently coherent and which relate to a narrative process that is fairly free in its treatment of plot. Moreover the insertion of magic and the irrational, which were favoured by the stagecraft of the day, serves to accentuate its typically baroque character.
This set contains 8 operas by Handel in 22 CDs. This set is an essential for Handel completists in that it includes Kuijken's excellent "Alessandro." It is one of Handel's best operatic creations.
Handel's Concerti Grossi opus 6 must surely be ranked as some of the greatest orchestral music ever composed. Probably penned in or around 1739, the pieces were developed to serve as orchestral "interludes" for other operatic or oratorio performances. To listen to them, however, is to tempt us not believe that this could possibly be the case: the Concerti Grossi opus 6 works are without doubt among the pinnacle of Baroque composition. After listening to these, we are left with a distinct sadness that Handel did not turn his attention more to this genre, as his masterful treatment in the opus 6 shows us his true genius.
“[These suites] have rarely been recorded or promoted by harpsichordists during the most recent revival of interest in ‘early music.’” I realize that Richard Egarr is entitled to his own opinions—his liner notes on an earlier release, for example, likened the humor in Purcell’s harpsichord music to that of the wonderful old 1950s BBC comedy The Goon Show —but he’s not entitled to his own facts. Christopher Brodersen pointed out in a 2011 review of these works featuring Laurence Cummings ( Fanfare 34:5) that ArkivMusic listed nine complete sets played on the harpsichord, with several others on the piano. I find some of the suites have considerably more recordings than that, in 2014: 26 for the Suite in A Major, 28 for the Suite in D Minor, 25 for the Suite in E Minor, 47 for the Suite in E Major. If such numbers reflect rare recordings, I have to wonder what Egarr would consider a moderate number, let alone a frequent one.
Beethoven reputedly wasn't Beecham's favorite composer, but you wouldn't know it from this performance; it's exceedingly well conceived, highly energetic, and has that unique Beecham sparkle to it. The fillers also are delightful. All recorded in Ascona, Switzerland in 1957.