WORKS: La resurrezione
PERFORMER: Annick Massis, Jennifer Smith (sop), Linda Maguire (mezzo-soprano), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Laurent Naouri (baritone); Les Musiciens du Louvre/Marc Minkowski
CATALOGUE NO: 447 767-2 DDD
La resurrezione was Handel’s second oratorio and dates from his years in Italy between 1706 and 1710. While in Rome, he enjoyed the patronage of several wealthy noblemen; one of them was the Marquis Ruspoli who commissioned La resurrezione, first performed at his residence on Easter Day 1708. The piece is an interesting one, full of dramatically effective scenes in which Handel treats his characters – Christ himself does not appear – with that humanity which was later to become such a distinctive and satisfying feature of his operas and English oratorios.
Conductor Marc Minkowski has frequently proved himself a persuasive and sympathetic Handelian and, in this new, vividly projected recording, gives us a vital impression of a particularly fine sample of Handel’s youth. After a resonant instrumental Sonata, Handel, without any further ado, takes us straight into an aria of almost breathtaking virtuosity, brilliantly, if not faultlessly, sung by soprano Annick Massis as an Angel. Her opponent is Lucifer, sung with pugnacious, warrior-like declamation by bass Laurent Naouri. Mary Magdalene, for whom Handel wrote some ravishing music, is affectingly sung by soprano Jennifer Smith, while mezzo-soprano Linda Maguire and tenor John Mark Ainsley complete a strong cast. Nicholas Anderson