LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Handel
WORKS: Il duello amoroso, HWV 82; Nel dolce tempo, HWV 135b; Vedendo amor, HWV 175; Sonate en trio, Op. 2 No. 1 in B minor; Mi palpita il cor, HWV 132c
PERFORMER: Andreas Scholl (countertenor), Hélène Guilmette (soprano); Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901957
The latest collaboration between countertenor Andreas Scholl and Accademia Bizantina explores Handel’s surprisingly neglected early cantatas, most of which date from his years in Italy, evoke amorous escapades in an Arcadian idyll, and exude all the passion and visceral energy of a youthful genius dazzled by Italian life and culture. Drama and lyricism abound.
Scholl clearly relishes the young Handel’s unbridled exuberance: he coaxes, seduces, laments and rages; here negotiating Handel’s virtuosic writing with brazen panache, elsewhere singing with such sensuous ardour that surely even an ice-nymph would yield. Director Ottavio Dantone responds to Handel’s every nuance, drawing lithe, capricious playing from Accademia Bizantina and highlighting the ever-changing musical spectrum to thrilling effect. There’s a real dynamism to these performances, as Italian sprezzatura (reckless know-how) lightens Teutonic rigour – just as it did for Handel 300 years ago. We’re not spoiled for choice when it comes to recordings of these works but this is surely the most seductive of them. Kate Bolton