Mozart, Gluck, Handel

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COMPOSERS: Gluck,Handel,Mozart
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Arias from Mitridate & Ascanio in Alba; Ombra felice, K255
PERFORMER: David Daniels (countertenor); Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Harry Bicket
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45365 2
The young American countertenor David Daniels possesses one of the most ravishing voices of its type. In this recital he takes a predominantly cool and comfortable approach to his art, even though he opens with something fiery from Mozart’s early opera Mitridate – Farnace’s ‘Venga pur’. Mellower music from the same piece, Farnace’s repenting aria, ‘Già dagli occhi’, quickly follows, and shows his real strengths – shapely phrasing, careful application of vibrato, and minute attention to dynamic variety – while elegance and passion go hand in hand in the concert aria ‘Ombra felice… Io ti lascio’.

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But perhaps it is Gluck’s smooth, understated style that suits him best – there’s an aria from Telemaco, ‘Se per entro alla nera foresta’, as well as the expected ‘Che farò senza Euridice’ and the lovely ‘Che puro ciel’ from Orfeo ed Euridice. Equally, an artful restraint permeates ‘Stille amare’ from Handel’s Tolomeo and ‘Sento amor’ from Partenope, a delicate aria of awakening love. And he’s wonderfully lovelorn and tender in ‘Ch’io parta?’ (also Partenope), the penultimate aria, to the extent that the concluding fury of ‘Furibondo spira il vento’ (Partenope yet again) seems an unnecessary puncturing of atmosphere. It also reveals most tellingly the voice type’s restrictions – sudden transitions to natural chest voice low in the register always sounds ugly – though Daniels executes the rushing scales brilliantly. Excellent support from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Harry Bicket. Stephen Pettitt