Handel: Your Tuneful Voice

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COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Vivat
ALBUM TITLE: Handel: Your Tuneful Voice
WORKS: Arias by Handel
PERFORMER: Iestyn Davies (countertenor); Carolyn Sampson (soprano); The King’s Consort/Robert King
CATALOGUE NO: VIVAT 105

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This collection of Handel arias sees countertenor Iestyn Davies return to ‘Yet can I hear that dulcet lay’ from The Choice of Hercules, as featured in his 2012 Hyperion recital with Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo of music written for Guadagni. For Robert King and The King’s Consort, too, this is an encore: that aria and three other numbers – ‘How can I stay when love invites’ (from Esther), ‘Mortals think that Time is sleeping’ (from The Triumph of Time and Truth), and the duet ‘Welcome as the dawn of day’ (from Solomon, performed here with Carolyn Sampson) – all featured on King’s 1995 recital with James Bowman. 

There’s nothing wrong with rifling through a back-catalogue. But from the plodding bass-line of ‘O sacred oracles of truth’ (from Belshazzar) to the tepid overtures to Jephtha and Samson, the playing is as unimaginative as the programming. Davies’s phrasing is immaculate, his tone pure and even. It’s a treat to hear Crispian Steele-Perkins, doyen of the natural trumpet, with him in ‘Eternal source of light divine’, and violinist Kati Debretzni turns the heat up several notches in her intricately decorated obbligato solo in ‘Your tuneful voice my tale would tell’. Elsewhere, there is a lack of energy and engagement.

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Anna Picard