Handel: Arias and Sinfonias from Ariodante, Amadigi, Radamisto, Giulio Cesare, Rodelinda and Agrippina

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Erato CD
WORKS: Arias and Sinfonias from Ariodante, Amadigi, Radamisto, Giulio Cesare, Rodelinda and Agrippina
PERFORMER: Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto), Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor); Orfeo 55
CATALOGUE NO: 2564623177

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In 1992 Nathalie Stutzmann recorded a fabulous disc of Handel arias with Roy Goodman and The Hanover Band. Her focus then was on heroic show-stoppers: Orlando’s ‘Fammi combattere’ and Cesare’s ‘Va tacito’. Having carved out a second career as a conductor, and notched up a good many more Handel roles, Stutzmann returns as singer and musical director in this programme of variety and wit that is all about the supporting casts. Philippe Jaroussky makes a striking guest appearance, singing Sesto to Stutzmann’s Cornelia in ‘Son nata a lagrimar’ (Giulio Cesare).

Stutzmann has a real feeling for pulse and text and still boasts formidable fioritura. Arsamene’s ‘Non so se sia la speme’ (Serse), Dardano’s ‘Pena tiranna’ (Amadigi), Alceste’s ‘Son qual stanco pellegrino’ (Arianna in Creta) and, accompanied by a single lute, Claudio’s ‘Senti, bell’idol mio’ (Silla) are all beautifully shaped. If only the instrumentalists of Orfeo 55 had paid as much attention to their intonation as they have to musical rhetoric: alas, oboes, chalumeaux and especially the double-basses can’t agree on the pitch.

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Anna Picard