Monteverdi, Roman, Telemann & Handel

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COMPOSERS: Monteverdi,Roman,Telemann & Handel
LABELS: Proprius
ALBUM TITLE: Anne Sofie von Otter
WORKS: Arias by Monteverdi, Roman, Telemann & Handel
PERFORMER: Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano); Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble
Although this disc only now makes its first established presence in the UK, accompanied by the 2005 Proprius catalogue, it was recorded over 20 years ago. Anne Sofie von Otter has subsequently been greatly in demand in 17th- and 18th-century repertoire of which the present recital offers something of a conspectus. Monteverdi is represented by two pieces from his earlier collection of Scherzi musicali and by the well-known Lament from his otherwise lost opera Arianna. These are charmingly sung, though von Otter seems less naturally at home with the idiom than with that of Handelian opera and oratorio. Dejaneira’s accompanied recitative ‘Where shall I fly?’ from Hercules offers a foretaste of von Otter’s fine account of the role in a much more recent complete recording of the oratorio (DG Archiv), while the celebrated aria ‘Piangerò, la sorte mia’, from Giulio Cesare, reveals the full allure of her warmly coloured vocal timbre. The air from Semele, ‘Where’er you walk’, was a less happy choice since Handel wrote it for Jupiter, a tenor role. The short piece in siciliano rhythm from Johann Helmich Roman’s beautiful Swedish Mass is the only number to have been borrowed from an earlier complete recording of the work on Proprius. It has recently been reissued and is well worth getting to know. The remaining item is Telemann’s bittersweet Funeral Music for a Canary, whose tragic fate draws from the composer in his concluding aria as heart-rending a piece as any to be found in his oratorios and sacred cantatas. Nicholas Anderson