Handel: Da quel giorno fatale; O numi eterni; Tra le fiamme

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WORKS: Da quel giorno fatale; O numi eterni; Tra le fiamme
PERFORMER: Magdalena Kožená (mezzo-soprano); Les Musiciens du Louvre/Marc Minkowski
CATALOGUE NO: 469 065-2
The three chamber cantatas featured on this live recording from Radio France belong to Handel’s youthful years in Italy between 1707 and 1710. It was a period which was to have a determining influence on his later style and one during which he made contacts which were both stimulating and practically useful. His patrons seem, by-and-large, to have been well aware of the calibre of the man in their midst and it was for two of them in Rome, the Marquis Ruspoli and Cardinal Pamphili, that Handel most probably wrote these finely sustained pieces. The most extended of them is Da quel giorno fatale, consisting of an orchestral introduction, four recitatives, three substantial arias and a handful of smaller-scale instrumental and vocal numbers. Soprano Magdalena Kožená has already impressed me by her Bach singing and this new release leaves me in no doubt at all concerning her technical and expressive strengths. Her vocal range is wide, and her ability to produce varied colour a great virtue in sustained solo dramatic pieces of this kind. Her performance of all three cantatas is compelling – in the highly charged O numi eterni she is further able to demonstrate her brilliant coloratura as well as a feeling for dramatic gesture – and she is supported throughout by Marc Minkowski’s sympathetic direction. He has an excellent group of instrumentalists at his command and the results are rewarding indeed. Nicholas Anderson