Let's not waste time: get this for soprano Lucy Crowe's voice, for her performance of "What passion cannot Music raise", for her "The soft complaining flute"–and don't forget the glorious "But oh! What art can teach". Okay–just get this for the magnificent Crowe, whose golden, ringing tone and impeccable, uninhibited technique sets Handel's arias ablaze in vibrant, scintillating glory, relegating any recorded competition to second-class status. (Listen to that long-held, stratospheric note in the final chorus, on the words "The trumpet shall be heard on high"–on high, indeed; it seems like Crowe could have sustained it forever!) To sing Handel requires technical ease and comfort, range and unreserved explicatory ability–and in this, and in her complete habitation of the world of Handelian style Lucy Crowe is unsurpassed.
The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of opera's most potent archetypes, the subject of the earliest experiments in the genre by Peri and Monteverdi. But Offenbach's wickedly witty operetta uses it as a vehicle to lampoon stuffy artistic conventions as well as the social and political realities of Paris in the Second Empire. In this sublimely ridiculous scenario, Eurydice is a flighty flirt only too happy to be separated from husband Orpheus, a dullard violin teacher, when Pluto kidnaps her into his realm.
Only a few years since emerging as a notable singer, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená hasn't stopped enchanting her audience. It is, after all, a rare pleasure to experience this unique voice with its warm and elegant timbre. Some of its aspects are apparent in her preceding recital, an unusual–and unusually beautiful program of Czech love songs. With this account of Handel's Italian Cantatas, Kozená confirms the immense scope of her gifts.
Marc Minkowski has led numerous outstanding Handel recordings, but he's up against stiff competition in Messiah. There are plenty of outstanding ones to suit all tastes, from Colin Davis's traditional performance on Philips to those of early-music specialists such as Hogwood, Suzuki, Christophers, and Pinnock. Minkowski is wildly original, and his version is unlike any other; it will intrigue some and anger many.
Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville, violinist of the royal chapel and just a bit younger than Rameau, is one of those French composers of the late Baroque generally relegated to the summary paragraph in historical surveys. His music is not terribly common on recordings, and the Brilliant label's resurrection of this late-'90s recording on Archiv, despite dreadful sound, is welcome.
Under the direction of the principal conductor and artistic director of the Salzburg Mozart Week, Mark Minkowski, the Musiciens du Louvre perform on two of Mozart’s original instruments. Mozart’s Violin Concerto and his Piano Concerto in A major are played on instruments that were once in the composer’s possession. Thibault Noally plays the Violin Concerto on a violin from the workshop of Pietro Antonio Dalla Costa and “conjures up Romantic brilliance from the well maintained instrument”, then Francesco Corti brings Mozart’s fortepiano to life again, thereby spreading “collective Mozart happiness all round” (Salzburger Nachrichten).
Handels operas are now so thoroughly a part of modern musical life that you might think every major opera house welcomes them. But until November 2010, when it introduced an absorbing new production of Alcina, the Vienna Staatsoper resisted them, not having done a Baroque opera since Monteverdis Poppea in the 1960s. The present production boasted an all-star cast of Baroque specialists, a former director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Adrian Noble, the highly-acclaimed conductor Marc Minkowski and his Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble in the pit. Adrian Noble places his Alcina into a framework which begins in the magnificent ballroom of the Devonshire-House in London Piccadilly. The legendary Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, stages a play in which she is acting together with her friends, a stage on the stage. Alcina is a great musical experience geared to the Baroque curiosity. Marc Minkowski revives Handels music in an outstanding way.
Ariodante is one of Handel's most consistently fine operas. Yes, yes, there are whole strings of da capo arias, but they are so dramatically apt and melodically interesting that things never get tiresome. Harmonia Mundi recently released a fine recording of this opera (conducted by Nicholas McGegan and starring "La Divina" Lorraine Hunt), yet this is even better. Anne Sofie Von Otter has, in recent years, sometimes oversung in Baroque music, but her tone here is ideal–heroic and powerful yet pure… There's not a weak link in the cast, and Mark Minkowski's conducting is consistently exciting. There is no better recording of a Handel opera out there. –Matthew Westphal
There are two different short operas (from 1754 and 1757) by Rameau with the title Anacréon. Both are one-act actes de ballet; this one was actually used as the third entrée of Rameau's opéra-ballet Les surprises de l'Amour when it was revived the same year. Both works have as their subject the Greek poet, Anacreon. The 1757 one - which was first performed at the Paris Opéra in May of that year and has a libretto by Pierre-Joseph Justin Bernard - has an only marginally less slight ‘plot’ than the earlier Anacréon. It follows an argument as to the relative merits of love and wine. That’s resolved in Anacreon’s favour by L’Amour; in fact, he believes the two are not incompatible.
There are four DVD of Entfuhrung with Malin Hartelius. In two she is Blonde, recorded in 1991 and 1997. She is Constanza here, recorded in 2004. In addition there is a Region 2 DVD from Zurich recorded in 2003 which I have not heard, other than a clip on line. This latest 2004 DVD is probably the best one as the Zurich one was conducted by an assistant conductor…Amazon.com