Danielle de Niese: Diva

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Handel,Marcello (arr. Morgan/Pochin) and Jenkins,Mozart
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Arias by Handel, Mozart, Marcello (arr. Morgan/Pochin) and Jenkins
PERFORMER: Danielle de Niese (soprano); Les Arts Florissants, William Christie etc
CATALOGUE NO: 478 2417

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Just three new items on this portrait CD, released in the wake of the enjoyable BBC TV documentary, Diva Diaries, featuring the vivacious soprano preparing for and performing the role of Susanna in Figaro at the Met.

James Morgan takes a handful of bars left unexpanded in Handel’s cantata Lucrezia and spins from them an aria that offers a fair imitation of the composer’s style, though if he’d developed them Handel would have been less repetitive and shown more technical skill.

Familiar from its use in a De Beers ad, Karl Jenkins’s imitation Vivaldi Palladio has the words of Mozart’s ‘Exsultate, jubilate’ stuck on. They don’t fit, and the music is so instrumentally conceived that even De Niese struggles to make it work vocally. The same non-trick is repeated when a Petrarch sonnet is clumsily glued onto the slow movement from Alessandro Marcello’s Oboe Concerto. 

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Do we really need any more fake Baroque? Not when De Niese sings, as on the rest of the disc, real Handel conducted by William Christie and Mozart under Sir Charles Mackerras. Her vocal and musical vitality shines out of every track, though the new items remain pure dross. George Hall