Handel: Delirio amoroso: Italian solo Cantatas

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COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Eufoda
WORKS: Delirio amoroso: Italian solo Cantatas
PERFORMER: Deborah York (soprano); Collegium Instrumentale Brugense/Patrick Peire
CATALOGUE NO: 1297 (distr. One for You)
With much of Handel’s mature work now well represented on CD (though we still need a good, uncut recording of Sosarme), his less familiar early music is proving increasingly popular fare. The 100 or so chamber cantatas he wrote during his four years in Italy (1706-10) are a particularly rich resource. Dramatically striking, instrumentally adventurous and blessed with a profusion of glorious tunes, these cantatas are brimful with the sunny exuberance of a young composer delighted to show off his talents.

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Deborah York, best-known for her work with Philippe Herreweghe and Robert King, has chosen four suitably diverse pieces. ‘Alla caccia’ is a brief hunt cantata laced with rousing trumpet; ‘Ah! crudel, nel pianto mio’ and the fragment ‘Languia di bocca lusinghiere’ trace the vagaries of pastoral love with a sure hand, bitter lament to joyful triumph. The 35-minute Delirio amoroso (also recorded by Ann Murray, in 1997) underlines Handel’s versatility and invention, combining instrumental movements with three exquisite arias that feature obbligato violin, cello and recorder in turn.

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York’s high soprano negotiates these taxing pieces with adroit technical facility and admirable purity of tone, while Collegium Instrumentale Brugense provide nimble, fluent support. In short, a delectable treat for Handel aficionados. Graham Lock