WORKS: Glorious Handel: Arias
PERFORMER: Julianne Baird (soprano); Brewer Baroque CO/Rudolph Palmer
CATALOGUE NO: NPD 85646
The soprano Julianne Baird, brags the cover of this CD, is ‘America’s finest Early Music vocal artist’. This is quite a claim, for though there’s no denying she’s good, she isn’t in the same league as Dawn Upshaw or Jennifer Larmore, let alone that peerless and sublime Handelian Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.
Baird has a light, bright, rather fragile voice; prissily precise elocution, especially in English; and a fondness, and indeed facility, for fioriture and relentless trilling that threatens to become wearing.
Still, this is a pleasant enough recital of the familiar (‘How beautiful are the feet’ from Messiah; ‘Where’er you walk’ from Semele) and the rare (two arias from the oratorio Alexander Balus; an extract from the early cantata Mi palpita il cor; two chunks of the opera Faramondo). But ultimately her manner is too cool and bland to threaten the pre-eminence of her better-known compatriots in this repertoire. Claire Wrathall