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Mirrors (Jeanine De Bique)

Jeanine De Bique (soprano); Concerto Köln/Luca Quintavalle (Berlin Classics)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Arias etc by Broschi, Graun, Handel, Telemann, Vinci et al
Jeanine De Bique (soprano); Concerto Köln/Luca Quintavalle
Berlin Classics 0302017BC   64:39 mins


Many of us first encountered Jeanine De Bique at the BBC Proms of 2017 when she gave a thrillingly rapid and vocally vertiginous account of ‘Rejoice’ from Handel’s Messiah. In this debut recording she focuses again upon the Baroque, but this very talented Trinidadian soprano definitely has many more strings to her bow, including Mozart, Weber, Gershwin, Caribbean folk music and Arvo Pärt.

The title Mirrors symbolises the ways in which the female heroines of the opera arias are reflected through her interpretations, or through contrasting settings of the same scene by different composers. The versions of the Alcina aria ‘Mi restano’ by Handel and Boschi demonstrate the latter, and De Bique clearly finds Boschi’s fluid phrasing more interesting than Handel’s lumpy efforts on this occasion. Her impressive breath control so often draws us in to the continuity of the melodic lines (Handel’s ‘Se pietà’), and her vocal acrobatics are bright and dynamically flexible.

The problem with Baroque decoration is that it is rarely specifically expressive. This does not matter in the bravura military style of Handel’s ‘L’alma mia fra’ (superbly negotiated by De Bique), but in Graun’s ‘L’empio rigor’ the personal sense of defiance and rage has to be provided by the grain of the singer’s voice, which sometimes needs to sacrifice a little of its perfect technique. That said, this is a terrific debut ably supported by some stylish instrumental playing.


Anthony Pryer