Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|George Frideric Handel, Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco|
Handel - Rodrigo / Banditelli, Piau, Fedi, Müller, Invernizzi, Calvi, Il Complesso Barocco, Curtis
Rodrigo wasn't Handel's very first opera (that was Almira), but it was the first one he wrote after arriving in Italy--and the first one that seems fully mature, with no hint of juvenilia. (He was all of 22 when he wrote ... more »
Rodrigo wasn't Handel's very first opera (that was Almira), but it was the first one he wrote after arriving in Italy--and the first one that seems fully mature, with no hint of juvenilia. (He was all of 22 when he wrote it). Already the composer had begun his habit of recycling music from earlier works; dedicated Handel fans will recognize plenty of material from (among others) Aminta e Fillide, Tirsi, Clori e Fileno, and the Carmelite Vespers music. Rodrigo's plot has all the martial and amorous conflict, revenge, and forgiveness of any self-respecting opera seria, but the narrative is less convoluted than most; more important, it's full of powerful and credible human emotion--emotion that Handel illustrates with consistently fine music. (There's none of the first-act doldrums that afflict some of Handel's other operas and oratorios.) Alan Curtis has assembled an unusually good cast: Caterina Calvi is an excellent--and all too rare--Handel contralto, with admirable flexibility, firm low notes and no matronly quality to the voice; tenor Rufus Müller makes a convincingly courageous and egotistical rebel nobleman, yet retains some of the sweet tone that made him a stand-out member of the Tallis Scholars in earlier years. The three sopranos--Elena Cecchi Fedi as the furious victim of seduction, Sandrine Piau as the virtuous queen, and Roberta Invernizzi as a rebellious young noble--are all exemplary. Then there's magnificent mezzo Gloria Banditelli: her singing is focused and flexible enough to fit right in with period instruments, with a sound both pure and heroic enough to be credible in a heroic castrato role. Curtis has cut a good bit of recitative (included, shown in italics, in the booklet), but then Handel often did the same thing. Moreover, he paces the performance well--sometimes one misses the spark that, say, Marc Minkowski and Paul McCreesh ignite throughout their best Handel performances, but the energy and theatrical involvement never flag. --Matthew Westphal
The most for your money with Handel's "Rodrigo"
Andrew Baumann | Chicago, IL | 06/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The best thing about this new recording of one of Handel's early operas is that great pains were clearly taken to fit the whole opera onto two well-filled CDs (each full-price, but containing nearly 80 minutues of music). To do this, Alan Curtis (the conductor) cut some of the lengthy recitative -- which is nevertheless provided in the libretto, indicated by italic type, and will therefore satisfy even Handel "completists" who can still save the cost of an extra CD. In the program notes, Curtis makes an excellent case for his reconstruction of the opera, which until recently was lacking its beginning, part of its middle, and its end. These have been restored partly by means of a recently discovered manuscript, and partly by Curtis himself, who composed the first couple of recitatives in the Baroque style (though, admittedly, not necessarily in the style of Handel) and borrowed a duet from another opera to replace a duet that was, to judge from the score, evidently missing. But Curtis argues convincingly enough that this duet was originally part of "Rodrigo" (primarily on the basis of the duet's key and the fact that the two operas are roughly contemporary).The only thing that might dissuade one from absolutely loving this recording is that Handel reused much of the music in other of his compositions. Since Handel lovers relish every new aria they hear, it may be sometimes disappointing that some of the melodies already sound familiar from other operas or concerti grossi. But rarely, if ever, did Handel plagiarize his own music exactly; each borrowed melody was reworked to some extent, so the music is still fresh and new.As for the quality of the recording itself, it is first rate and vies with other period-instrument performances. The instrumentation is spare and intimate, the recording clear and vivid. The singing is impeccable. This Handel lover looks forward to further recordings of Handel's operas by Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco."
Absolutely beautiful music
Bruce Bogin | rural France | 01/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love Baroque music, particularly vocal and particularly Handel operas and oratorios. I don't care much about technicalities or about story lines. This is beautiful music written by the 22 year old Handel. It includes five of the most beautiful female voices imaginable and an excellent tenor. If you like to listen to beautiful music, buy this set. You will not be disappointed. Alan Curtis the director, who also filled out some of the missing music, should be awarded a medal for this one. (Try his rendition of Vivaldi's Giustino as well.) The discussion of the opera by Anthony Hicks and the note by Mr. Curtis in the booklet are excellent. The only think missing are photos of the singers. I happen to know that the women are as beautiful as their voices. Buy it."
You really can't get much better
Baroque and opera freak | Hong Kong | 06/19/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The main point of my review is that this wonderful recording of a superb early Handel opera is now available again - in the Virgin Classics reissue of earlier Curtis Handel opera recordings for this Handel commemorative year called "Handel: Six Operas" (or "Handel 2009: 250th Anniversary"). Now this recording or this opera may not be quite as great as Radamisto (in the same set) or the recent Alcina, but the cast is impeccable and the recording - not to mention the incredibly good instrumental accompaniment - is top class, and then some. This recording was issued in 1999, and I would say that among very intense competition, Curtis and his crew probably established their leadership in recordings of Handel recordings with this opera, and of course they have kept it ever since (with some recent hot competition from Diego Fasolis, who has nothing at all against counter-tenors). Now I would love to hear the recent recording of the same opera by Al Ayre Espanol - an absolutely first-class Spanish Baroque ensemble with a lot of fine recordings under their belt - and a major claim they have to our attention is the absence of cuts (they use the full three CDs). But anyway, Handel opera lovers who don't already have all these earlier Curtis masterpieces have to get this bargain-priced reissue set first, and then they can go on to other competitive recordings if they have the listening time and the budget. I have only given four stars because after discussion with another veteran Amazon reviewer, I realized that five stars should be reserved for just a very few absolutely top recordings. It is only in comparison with Curtis recordings like Alcina, Radamisto and Rodelinda that this recording drops one notch."