The magnificent Christopher Purves performs a recital of Handel’s bass arias. This unique collection demonstrates the range and brilliance of Handel’s writing for this voice, featuring a selection from Italian and English operas, English classical drama, Biblical oratorios, literary odes and a masque. Handel’s endlessly imaginative gift for characterization is fully explored here, with Purves commanding an extraordinary emotional and technical range from the buffo blustering of Polyphemus in Acis and Gatalea to the loving musings of Abinoam in ‘Tears, such as tender fathers shed’ from the oratorio Deborah.
Muzio Scevola ("Mucius Scaevola", HWV 13) is an opera seria in three acts about Gaius Mucius Scaevola. The Italian-language libretto was by Paolo Antonio Rolli, adapted from a text by Silvio Stampiglia. The music for the first act was composed by Filippo Amadei, the second act by Giovanni Bononcini, and the third by George Frideric Handel. Collaborations of groups of composers were common in the 18th century, though this is the only one done in London. Bononcini had written the music for two earlier treatments of this story on his own, works dating from 1695 and 1710. The opera's initial run of performances began at the King's Theatre in London on 15 April 1721. A part of the second act and the third part composed by Händel is documented on the production of new port Classic being here.
The athletic Italian- (and Latin-) language arias of the young Handel, almost unknown to general audiences a few decades ago, have become almost a rite of passage for young sopranos, so it's no surprise to see the highly praised soprano Julia Lezhneva come along with a collection of them for her second solo album. It's an attractive set showing that Lezhneva knows how to play to her strengths. There are just enough of the big showpieces to prove that she can acquit herself fine in them (and indeed she has done the likes of Vivaldi very well in the past), but the majority of the program is devoted to displaying her rather uncanny silvery sound.
Ornate, opulent, majestic: Handel's music truly exemplifies the Baroque in its elaborate monumentality, which many listeners associate with his vast, dramatic oratorios. Perhaps lesser known, but hardly less significant is Handel's chamber music, which reveals a different kind of artistry, an intimately refined facet of the Baroque spirit. The contrast between the monumental and the intimate in Handel's music is especially interesting since he cultivated chamber music throughout his career, composing works that reflected the development of his style from its Italianate beginnings to the ultimate richness of his late idiom.