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Handel - Lotario / Mingardo, Kermes, Prina, Summers, Davislim, Priante, Il Complesso Barocco, Curtis
George Frideric Handel, Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco
Handel - Lotario / Mingardo, Kermes, Prina, Summers, Davislim, Priante, Il Complesso Barocco, Curtis
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (28) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (34) - Disc #2


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CD Reviews

Caveat Emptor, Handel Lovers!
David A. Boxwell | Maryland, USA | 11/08/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"While the singing is generally excellent, and Mingardo is her usual superb self, this performance suffers from two grievous flaws. First, Curtis's band is audibly undernourished (only 7 fiddles), so the dramatic force of the allegro arias is diminished (Renee Fleming's recording of her Lotario aria in her recent Handel solo album makes the point clearly). Second, and much more serious, is the decision to axe the B-sections and da capo repeats of 9 of the arias (Mingardo's part is especially shredded). Curtis explains in the accompanying booklet that this was intended to make the set more "marketable" in the current environment by releasing it on 2, rather than 3, discs. But true Handelians would have gladly paid for a 3-disc set, because they're the only market for this, anyway. And, why didn't it occur to DHM to sell 3 disc for the price of 2 full-priced discs? So: we're back to the bad old days of the 1960s, when Handel operas suffered swingeing cuts, destroying the works' structural and dramatic integrity."
Simone Kermes edition?
M. Montenegro | mexico | 11/16/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I totally agreed with the review of David A. Boxwell, and I just would like to say something about the soprano that il Complesso Barocco and A. Curtis have been imposing in their Handel projects. Simone Kermes has a pretty voice, and she is a virtuoso singer indeed, but she does not have many possibilities for dramma: the voice is colorless, almost white, and this Handel operas need a voice with temperament... All the projects include this singer, they are now recording Rodelinda, again with S. Kermes... Why haven't they invited sopranos like Dorothea Röschmann, Luba Orgonasova, Inga Kalna, even Patrizia Ciofi (to name just a few), to any of these projects? I have nothing against S. Kermes, but when you are doing a major project you cannot depend on the same singer for every single work, there are several sopranos around that can make justice to a Handel Opera, and the public needs also other options."
Marvelous Handel, Marvelous Performance!
Y.P. | Mount Messiaen, Utah | 05/29/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Yes, I know that this edition has some unfortunate cuts, which Curtis himself explained in his excellent "Note about cuts and about Handel's dramatic sense". However, the performance itself (and Handel's music too) is so close to divine that there is no way for me to give this set less than 5 stars. In fact, my motivation of writing this review is to provide this minority opinion as well as some further information not covered by previous reviews.

Curtis is (one of) my favorite Handel opera conductor. He was one of those whose pioneering performances have helped today's rehabilitation of Handel's operas, once derided and rarely performed. As a professor emeritus of musicology at Berkeley, he is undoubtedly one of the authorities in Baroque music. Indeed, his love and knowledge are palpable from the liner notes he wrote, which I've always read eagerly. However, for a listener, that might not matter much if he cannot coax a coherent performance. But how he can! If you have any chance to compare 2 performances of the same singer or instrumentalist under his baton and under another conductor, you can really hear the difference!

Curtis does not always get the star singers for his recordings. Even though he is often able to lift them to a higher ground, there are cases which one really wishes to have better performers. However, for this performance, Curtis gathered a team of singers which could hardly be bettered. In the title role is Sara Mingardo, a favorite of mine, who sings splendidly throughout. Simone Kermes as Adelaide and Sonia Prina as Matilde are just as incredibly good. The other three singers(*) are also terrific in their roles. However, the major contribution, IMHO, comes from Alan Curtis himself. He not only directs the performance, but also plays the harpsichord as (part of) the basso continuo. One hears that Curtis meticulously shapes every single phrase with subtle dynamic and tempo variations, without sounding over-articulated or academic. Even the studio setting does not compromise the "arch" of the dramatic buildup. There is no routine run-through in any single bar. As with any Handel opera recording I've heard from Curtis, the finished product is a labor of love, shaped by profound understanding and life-long experience. And listening to him playing the basso continuo on the harpsichord, I have the illusion that he must have accompanied the singer for decades. That's of course not true, but the rapport is there to be heard!

Unfortunately, this set is currently out-of-print. The good news though, is that it is included in the bargain box Handel Operas - Alessandro, Lotario, Partenope, Rodelinda, Tamerlano, Serse, Rinaldo, Giulio Cesare. However, this box set does not contain the libretto. One has to borrow it from the library or steal it from a friend. But I can guarantee that it will be worth it!

Very highly recommended.

(*) Steve Davislim (T) as Berengario, Hilary Summers (A) as Idelberto, and Vito Priante (B) as Clodomiro. Interestingly, Summers has a "falsettist" kind of timber which makes 3 alto voices very distinct. A big plus."