Lorraine at Emmanuel

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WORKS: Lorraine Hu: Cantata BWV 30- Aria ‘Kimmt ihr angefochtnen Sánder’; Cantata BWV 33- Aria ‘Wie fárchtsam wankten meine Schritte’; Handel: Hercules- Ariasnt Lieberson (mezzo-soprano); The Orchestra of Emmanuel Music/Craig Smith, John Harbison
PERFORMER: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (mezzo-soprano); The Orchestra of Emmanuel Music/Craig Smith, John Harbison


The bulk of this disc of live performances is given over to extracts from Handel’s ‘musical drama’ Hercules, an English opera in all but name, in which Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sang the role of Hercules’s faithful wife Dejanira, driven to become her husband’s vengeful murderer by insupportable jealousy. It’s a tragic creation she fleshes out with musical and dramatic life, as much in the earlier, calmer portion of the part as in her later emotional extremity, though the passages where Handel depicts Dejanira’s loss of self-control and eventual madness with floods of coloratura are not always perfectly articulated. In a studio recording these could have been tidied up, but we’re lucky to have them at all, since she did not otherwise record them. Likewise the two substantial arias from Bach’s Cantatas Nos. 30 and 33 are new to her discography. These suit her even better, her measured tone and well-judged diction binding the words and notes together into an indissoluble unity. She’s mostly accompanied by conductor Craig Smith, who died a year after Lieberson, in 2007. He could do with more impetus in places, and the playing with more attack. But it’s still a solid achievement, distinguished by the mezzo’s remarkable artistry. George Hall