Handel: Germanico

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COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Germanico
PERFORMER: Sara Mingardo, Maria Grazia Schiavo, Laura Cherici, Franco Fagioli, Magnus Staveland, Sergio Foresti; Ensemble e Coro Il Rossignolo/Ottaviano Tenerani
CATALOGUE NO: 88697860452

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Found by chance in a Florence archive, Germanico may be the first work that Handel composed in Italy. An allegory on the War of the Spanish Succession, it is low on incident but long on suavity. Harpsichordist Ottaviano Tenerani has pieced together a putative provenance from the scant documentation of Handel’s movements before 1709. Venetian watermarks on the manuscript paper, and the flux of pro- and anti-Habsburg feeling in Italy at the time, suggest to Tenerani that Germanico was written for private performance in 1706 and is indeed, as the anonymous copyist wrote, ‘Del Sigr Hendl’. If the discovery of Germanico marks a career boost for Tenerani, he has repaid the favour in this stylishly executed performance by the ensemble Il Rossignolo.

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Handelians may be perplexed by the predominance of continuo arias, but each one is characterfully customised by Tenerani and his lutenist Michele Pasotti. The single strings (including two violas da gamba) are boldly decorated, the oboe, bassoon and trumpet obbligato solos impactful. As Celio and Cesare, Magnus Staveland and Sergio Foresti show authority, while Franco Fagioli emphasises the poignancy in Lucio’s arias. Laura Cherici brings warmth to Antonia’s ‘Sorti piu belle’, harmonising sweetly with Maria Grazia Schiavo’s Agrippina and Sara Mingardo’s soulful Germanico in the exquisite trio ‘Mia bella, mi parto’. By Handel or not, this trio and the dazzling violin arpeggios that represent the wings of the eagle in Mingardo’s ‘Dopo cento anni e cento’ make Germanico required listening. Anna Picard