Following several acclaimed albums of Handel’s operatic and choral masterpieces (including a triumphant Giulio Cesare with Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra and the oratorio La Resurrezione with British soprano Kate Royal), French harpsichordist and conductor Emmanuelle Haïm at last brings her fresh, expressive approach to Messiah. Joining her on a musically and spiritually uplifting journey for this long-awaited recording is Haïm’s own choir and period-instrument orchestra, Le Concert d’Astrée, with four of the UK’s finest Handelian singers. Having begun her career as a brilliant harpsichordist and protegee of Baroque pioneers William Christie and Christophe Rousset, Haïm has a long history with Messiah.
The major debut on Decca DVD of Danielle de Niese. Returning to the opera house where she sang her sensational Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare, Danielle performs the title role in Monteverdi's great opera of lust and power, in Robert Carsen's new, modern-dress staging. De Niese is perfectly cast as the beautiful and seductive Poppea who ruthlessly grabs power as Nero's lover but, in this production, is doomed from the moment of her coronation. De Niese's performance is vocally and dramatically powerful, perfectly complemented by Alice Coote as Nero. The two are supported by an outstanding cast, together with period-performance stars Emmanuelle Haïm conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Carsen creates an intelligent and visually-strong production, focusing on the personal side of the story. At times the action is violent and shocking, but this is juxtaposed with episodes of lightness and humour.
Giulio Cesare, the most popular of Handel’s operas, is named after the great Roman emperor, but its most memorable character is Cleopatra. In this production by Laurent Pelly from Paris’ splendid Palais Garnier, the role of the Egyptian queen is assumed for the first time by Natalie Dessay, described by the Telegraph as “a supreme vocal enchantress”.
What a wonderful contrast! Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Bach’s Magnificat represent the two oft-compared composers at Dixit . He had already written two Italian operas, and his career path clearly pointed in that direction. The Dixit is as extravagant as Bach’s Magnificat is controlled. The two pieces are such a good fit that one wonders why they haven’t turned up together more frequently, if, in fact, they have at all.
Henri Dutilleux's work has been gaining attention through a number of significant recent recordings. Esa-Pekka Salonen recorded his Correspondances with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and Ludovic Morlot has recorded both his symphonies, as well as other works, as the new conductor of the Seattle Symphony. This opportunity to experience and appraise his work casts him as among the most significant French composers of the late twentieth century.
Though these works were written originally for the barock transverse flute, exept BWV 997 that was written probably for the lute, they are played here on the barock recorder. The result, at least to my taste, is more convincing and exhilarating than any performance of these works on the transvers flute that i ever heard.