Handel – Ballo per orchestra
Overtures & Arias from Samson, Ariodante, Rinaldo, Giulio Cesare in Egitto; Teseo, Belshazzar, Almira etc
Capriccio Barock Orchester/Dominik Kiefer
Tudor 7197 62:52 mins
Readers familiar with Handel’s operas and oratorios will know that they are generously catered for in orchestral pieces. Some 20 years ago Collegium Musicum 90 recorded two discs of such movements from the operas and oratorios, respectively. This newcomer draws upon music from both forms of entertainment to create an attractive programme.
Overtures offer a particularly rich seam, and several recordings of these splendid movements have already been issued. Capriccio Barock Orchester, with greater imagination has assembled a more varied fare with assorted dances, ritornellos and instrumental arrangements of vocal arias. Some of the popular choices, such as the extended sequence of dances from Ariodante and Alcina,have been eschewed in favour of music less frequently performed, such as the aria ‘Sprich vor mir ein süsses Wort’ (Say a sweet word for me) from the second act of Handel’s earliest surviving opera for Hamburg, Almira. A ritornello from the first act of the same opera is sadly the only dance from among many in the score to feature here. Seasoned Handelians will at once recognise two pieces from one of the composer’s late operas Imeneo (1741) in the more familiar context of the contemporaneous Op. Six Concerti grossi.
Leader and director Dominik Kiefer’s programme falls into three suites. Horns, which play a prominent role in the first, are joined by recorder and flute in the second, while trumpet crowns the third. Stylish playing in a lively acoustic, but I found myself longing to hear a human voice in the arias.