Handel: As Steals the Morn…: arias and scenes from Alceste, Semele, Tamerlano, Samson, Rodelinda,Esther, Jephta, L’Allegro & Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno

COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Handel
WORKS: As Steals the Morn…: arias and scenes from Alceste, Semele, Tamerlano, Samson, Rodelinda,Esther, Jephta, L’Allegro & Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno
PERFORMER: Mark Padmore (tenor), Lucy Crowe (soprano); The English Concert/Andrew Manze
CATALOGUE NO: HMU 907422
Mark Padmore is no stranger to enthusiasts for Baroque opera and cantatas. His contributions are plentiful and distinguished. Now this self-effacing artist offers us a disc of arias and scenes from Handel’s operas, oratorios and odes sensitively accompanied by The English Concert under Andrew Manze’s direction. This is one of the most alluring recitals of its kind that has come my way for a very long time. Handel, of course, has a lot to do with it. Padmore has chosen discerningly here, ringing the changes of opera seria with airs from the composer’s English oratorios. Padmore reveals the composer’s enormous affective range in singing that is variously passionate, tender and ardent. Among the highlights for me are an evenly and yearningly sung ‘Where’er you walk’ (Semele), which brought to mind another performance by William Herbert in a 1950s recording with Sir Anthony Lewis, long since disappeared, Bajazet’s lovely aria ‘Forte e lieto’ (Tamerlano) which Handel later adapted for one of his German arias, and ‘Waft her angels’ (Jephtha). It is, though, the duet ‘As steals the morn’ from Il moderato, the third part of L’allegro ed il penseroso which Handel later dropped, that touched my sensibilities most acutely. In this ravishing music Padmore is sympathetically partnered by Lucy Crowe with an intuitively responsive oboe obbligato by Katharina Spreckelsen. An outstanding recital. Nicholas Anderson

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