Best available CD of Apollo e Dafne
Michael Bouman | 05/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having absorbed Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's vinyl release of Apollo e Dafne, I was sad to see it hasn't been released as a CD. That was a gorgeous recording in every way. Lately I bought the three available CD versions. Russell Braun's singing of Apollo is far and away the best. You can tell he's in wonderful voice throughout. I especially liked his shading of "Come rosa in su la spina" and thoroughly enjoy it despite the Americanized Italian, as if the text reads "sulla spina." I think he just gets carried away with the spinning out of the words. Everything about this performance is laudable, including the recording quality. Karina Gauvin is great as Dafne, and Bernard Labadie leads Les Violins du Roy with stylish verve."
A group of French Canadian musicians show us how Handel shou
Baroque and opera freak | Hong Kong | 05/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now that Karina Gauvin has caught the attention of the world with her superb performances in Alan Curtis's recent recordings of Handel's operas Alcina and Ezio, not to mention her own recent solo album of Handel oratorio arias and dramatic scenes, Handel and Baroque music lovers will want to delve into what she has recorded before. Well, "Apollo e Dafne" is one of the very best of the scores of cantatas that Handel wrote while he was in Italy (mostly Rome) from 1706 to 1710. Gauvin is another of the great French Canadian Baroque singers to emerge on the international stage in the last ten or fifteen years, and she is absolutely tops in her class. This album was done on a New York label, Dorian Recordings, but with an entirely Canadian cast of musicians: conductor Bernard Labadie and his ensemble from Quebec City, Les Violons du Roy, plus the incredibly accomplished Canadian baritone, Bernard Labadie. As a fellow Canadian, can I not say that I am proud beyond words? This music by Handel ranks with his best, and Gauvin and Braun and Labadie take it absolutely to the stratosphere -- I really don't think that a better recording could be produced. The quality that strikes one the most is undoubtedly the youthful, hormone-charged feeling of both the work (which is based on the story of Apollo, the god of the phallus, chasing after the beautiful Daphne, who is just not interested in his burning affections and gets herself turned into a tree to prevent his otherwise inevitable penetration of her sylvian no-man-allowed paradise) and the performance. Most of us devoted Handel fans have already retreated or been driven from the Apollo-Daphne chasing stage of life due to age or some other factor that has confined or deflated our libido, and doses of music like this can keep those hormones running, at least in our cerebrum, and turn them into aesthetic patterns that can continue to keep us fully alive for the rest of our lives, even when the old libido reaches the stage where even Viagra can do no good. Of course it is this kind of totally aristocratic expression of sexuality that has the capacity of turning our desire into spiritual pleasure, which is something that the direct expression of libido in rock and blues music will never do. In other words, if you're reading this you're already beyond the rock and the blues and ready to let the culture of the wealthy Catholic aristocracy of Baroque Italy, mediated by one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time, entertain us until all our desire turns into pure enjoyment. That is of course why we take the wine and the bread, so that the agony of a perennial pursuit that can never be satisfied can be transmuted into the bliss of salvation. One large chalice of the sacred wine -- plus a disk of Handel music like this one -- is all that it takes to make us fully assured of salvation. As the Bible and Luther taught us, we're never going to get there through our own efforts, so why not sit back and enjoy it as already achieved by the best Canadian musicians that this Baroque freak has ever heard?"