Handel: Le cantate per il Marchese Ruspoli, HWV 79, 105, 142, 171 & 173

COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Glossa
ALBUM TITLE: Handel
WORKS: Le cantate per il Marchese Ruspoli, HWV 79, 105, 142, 171 & 173
PERFORMER: Emanuela Galli, Roberta Invernizzi (soprano); La Risonaza/Fabio Bonizzoni (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 921522
This second disc of Handel’s Italian cantatas from Glossa focuses on works written for the Marquis of Ruspoli in 1705. Karl Boehmer’s notes provide a vivid picture of Handel’s success in Italy, fêted at every turn, his music reflecting his dizzying popularity, full of daring and imagination: an aria in Un’alma innamorata opens with over a minute’s ritornello of constantly side-stepped cadences; Armida abbandonata rushes breathlessly after the fleeing Rinaldo in a whirlwind recitative; a splendidly strutting march introduces Diana cacciatrice, performed after a day’s stag-hunting.

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Emanuela Galli is the soloist for all but one cantata, and provides a favourite musical device, an ‘echo’, for Roberta Invernizzi in the hunting cantata. Galli has a stylish approach, agile in fast movements, ornaments decorating rather than distorting Handel’s lines. She is, though, so bound up in the anguish of unrequited love, the common thread, that I longed for a moment of sustained line. Every note is a separate jewel, beautifully cut, but detached from those around it.

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Most successful is the slower, reflective ‘Notte placida’ – ‘peaceful night… a melancholy veil to pain’ – and its following aria with violins whispering the ‘kind auras’ of Zephyrs. Here, as throughout, strings and continuo of La Risonanza give excellent support. George Pratt