Jørgen Leth can squeeze poetry from a stone and wit from dust, and he can find love where the milk of human kindness runs dry. In a series of tableaux of Life in Denmark, he carries absurdism to a happy extreme. To act out his minuscule non-dramas, he uses a motley crew of professional actors like Ghita Nørby and Claus Nissen, writer Dan Turéll plus a snake charmer, a bicycle racer and a circus queen.
Fernando is the abandoned first draft of Handel’s opera Sosarme (performed at the King’s Theatre in February 1732)… Curtis’s pacing and shaping of Handel’s music is consistently subtle, astutely rhetorical and firmly connected to the libretto text. Although it might be possible to explore firmer muscularity and create a more vivid sense of surprise in the quicker music, there is something to be said for Curtis’s shrewd reservation of such effects for when it is truly vital for the drama. For instance, Marianna Pizzolato’s powerful arias “Vado al campo” and “Cuor di madre e cuor di moglie” are potently delivered moments of severe agitated passion that are all the more effective for the sweeter elegance that pervades much of this lovely score. The sublime duet “Per le porte” is sung with poetic intimacy by Lawrence Zazzo and Veronica Cangemi. Zazzo sings his elegantly heroic aria “Alle sfere della gloria” with supple clarity. Max Emanuel Cencic is impressive as the reticent Sancio, unwilling to be used as a pawn in his ruthless grandfather Altomaro’s Machiavellian plans to tear the royal family apart. Antonio Abete gives an ideal account of the villain’s arias… Fernando is one of Curtis’s most consistent and pleasing Handel opera recordings. (David Vickers, Gramophone)