Handel: Tamerlano, HWV 18

COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: MDG
ALBUM TITLE: Tamerlano
WORKS: Tamerlano, HWV 18
PERFORMER: Nicholas Spanos, Mary-Ellen Nesi,
Tassis Christoyannis, Mata Katsuli,
Irini Karaianni, Petros Magoulas; Orchestra of Patras/George Petrou

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CATALOGUE NO: 609 1457-2
Deriving ultimately from the history of the Tartar warlord who decimated much of Western Asia in the 14th century, Handel’s opera is one of his most intense. This recording follows closely the version presented at its 1724 premiere, whereas its predecessors have adopted more of the music Handel cut before the first night. The result is to give the piece even more focus. Nicholas Spanos presents the title role positively. His chief opponent, the Turkish Emperor Bajazete, is a complex, weighty role, grasped fully by Tassis Christoyannis. Mati Katsuli delivers a finely detailed account of his daughter Asteria, Mary-Ellen Nesi a perceptive one of her lover Andronico, and Irene’s pride and resentment registers impressively in the hands of Irini Karaianni.

The period orchestra’s playing is fine and George Petrou’s conducting expressive and nicely paced. The set’s chief drawback is the sound, which is lacking in range. Certainly, it is a contender, though a live 1991 performance delivered under Gardiner has equal thrust and much clearer sound.

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George Hall