Gluck: Opera Arias

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COMPOSERS: Gluck
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Gluck: Opera Arias
WORKS: Opera Arias
PERFORMER: Daniel Behle (tenor); Armonia Atenea/George Petrou

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This year is the tricentenary of Gluck’s birth, but you would never guess it. One of the six greatest opera composers, he is being ignored both on operatic stages and by the record companies. So it is a delight to welcome Decca’s CD devoted to tenor arias by the versatile Daniel Behle. Unfortunately, of the 11 arias he sings, the first eight and the last one belong to what is known as the ‘pre-reform’ Gluck, with texts by the dreadful Metastasio. They give Behle plenty of chance to show his phenomenal coloratura skill but none to show that, with his lovely voice, he is able to be powerfully expressive in the way that Gluck came to demand. He can only do that in an aria from Iphigénie en Aulide and in Orphée’s famous lament for the loss of Euridyce. They are respectable performances but delivered, with the aid of George Petrou and Armonia Atena, in a brisk style that diminishes their impact. So this disc mainly represents things that Gluck could do as well as other people, but not the things for which he deserves to be celebrated. The recording is resonant and forward. Michael Tanner