Thursday, October 28, 2010

Handel Arias - Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

 


 

 

 

 

Review:

If you think you've heard Handel's "Ombra mai fu" (known as his "Largo") so often, and in so many different arrangements, and sung by so many different voices, that you can no longer be moved or surprised by it, think again. This CD of Handel arias, mostly from his Theodora or the cantata La Lucrezia, ends with "Ombra mai fu," and as sung by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, it is so tender, so beautiful, so impeccably shaded, that you'll think you're hearing it for the first time. But that's only four of this disc's 67 minutes---a follow-up to Hunt Lieberson's extraordinarily successful CD of Bach cantatas. There's not a dull or Baptismal registration George Frideric Handel on the 24th of February, 1685disinterested moment to be heard anywhere. As the violated Lucrezia, Hunt Lieberson alternately rages against the man who raped her and turns her grief inward; the former is terrifying in its intensity, the latter makes us almost feel as if we're eavesdropping. The five arias for Irene, Theodora's friend, confidante, and the upholder of Christian beliefs are all magical prayers or statements of faith, and from Hunt Lieberson, they become real, with each word honestly conveyed and colored. The voice itself is unfailingly beautiful---warm, lush, never forced, agile when necessary---and her breath control is stunning. She is backed ideally by Harry Bicket and The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the string soloists in the ensemble---the viola da gamba player, lutenist, etc.---are as gifted as she is. If you want proof that Handel was a great dramatist with a special gift for communicating emotion, all while listening to sublime sounds, this CD is a must. --Robert Levine

 

ape, cover

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