Solo recitals of arias from Handel operas and oratorios are common, so it's a pleasure to hear an album devoted to his duets, particularly when they're performed as well as they are here by soprano Rosemary Joshua and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly. Both have had diverse careers, but are known especially for their Baroque roles. Their voices are especially well-matched in weight, and their blend is beautifully warm, but they are each distinctive enough that they retain a strong vocal identity even when singing in close harmony.
In this live recording from the Royal Festival Hall the OAE shines its musical torch into the realms of some later repertoire, shedding new light on the music of Mahler. Conducted by Principal Artist Vladimir Jurowski, this album includes the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), written in the wake of an unhappy affair with a soprano, and the extraordinarily exciting and powerful Totenfeier, Mahler’s first foray into orchestral music, and later reworked into the opening movement of his second symphony.
The repertoire on this CD is written across a period of more than forty-five years, from the year Britten entered the Royal College of Music at the age of sixteen, to the very last year of his life. The works are performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and they are conducted by Edward Gardner, whose Britten release in March 2011 (CHAN10658) was made Disc of the Month in the April issue of BBC Music.