Handel: Sosarme

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Newport
WORKS: Sosarme
PERFORMER: John Aler, Julianne Baird, Drew Minter, D’Anna Fortunato, Jennifer Lane, Nathaniel Watson, Raymond PellerinAmor Artis Orchestra/Johannes Somary
CATALOGUE NO: NPD 85575 DDD
This version of Sosarme, the first on CD, is by the same US team who, with some variations of personnel, have already recorded several other Handel works, including the operas Siroe and Imeneo. No one would count the latter pair among Handel’s finer achievements, but Sosarme, originally produced in 1732, when it proved a rare success, is an attractive opera which boasts a handful of exquisite arias.

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Yet, despite some impressive singing – notably by Julianne Baird, though with strong support from tenor John Aler and bass Nathaniel Watson – this is a disappointing release. The major problem is that the score has been heavily edited – inexplicably so, since the two CDs could easily accommodate an extra 25 minutes. Some arias have been omitted entirely, others are sung in truncated – or rather, da capotated – versions. ‘Per la porte’, one of the loveliest duets in all Handel opera, has been sliced in half. Butchery! Add such minor absurdities as the use of a 50+ chorus where Handel called for just seven, and I have to say that Handel enthusiasts would be better advised to check out Poro (Opus 111) or Ariodante (Philips), both also new to CD, and to leave this particular Sosarme low on the wants list. Graham Lock