Handel: Arias from Serse, Giulio Cesare, Ariodante, Rodelinda, Rinaldo,

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Arias from Serse, Giulio Cesare, Ariodante, Rodelinda, Rinaldo,
PERFORMER: David Daniels (countertenor) Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/ Roger Norrington
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45326 2
The young American countertenor David Daniels is already a Handel veteran. Since 1995 he has sung in Serse, Israel in Egypt, Messiah, Saul, Jephtha and Glyndebourne’s 1996 production of Theodora, and he certainly sounds at ease on this CD.


Though the works represented range from Handel’s 1711 London debut, Rinaldo, to his virtual operatic swansong, 1738’s Serse, Daniels’s choice of arias is not adventurous. A repertoire that includes such well-known items as ‘Scherza infida’, ‘Dove sei?’, ‘Cara sposa’ and ‘Ombra mai fù’ invites possibly unflattering comparisons: anyone who has heard Anne Sofie von Otter’s breathtaking account of ‘Scherza infida’ (with Minkowski on Archiv) is likely to find Daniels’s take decidedly anticlimactic.


Still, if Daniels doesn’t yet have the dramatic subtlety of a von Otter, nor the naturally sensuous tone of an Andreas Scholl, his voice is strong, flexible, full-bodied and secure in the upper registers, and he has impressive technique. Whether summoning tempests in Rinaldo’s exhilarating ‘Venti, turbini’ or musing quietly in Sextus’s tender ‘Cara speme’, he sounds very much in control. If I prefer Handel sung a little less correctly, a little more expressively, Daniels’s debut remains an enjoyable recital. Graham Lock