(Comparisons: Angelo Manzotti & James Bowman)
David Daniels is prominent amongst the new generation of counter tenors,
and he took the title role of Handel's Rinaldo with Cecilia Bartoli
in the recent performances at The Barbican (recorded afterwards for CD release
in due course). I was not so bowled over there as some colleagues; preferring
the bass-baritone Nathan Berg to either of those stars for his musicianship
- see my review in S&H,
November 1999, with my strong
recommendation for the Hyperion Schubert Edition Vol. 29
in which he features with the wonderful 'mezzo-contralto' Marjana Lipovsek
(yes, I meant that!).
Here are arias from Tolomeo & Partenope (Handel);
Telemaco and Orfeo ed Euridice (Gluck) and Midriate
and Ascanio (Mozart). The first was breathless rather than
excitingly virtuosic; there are some strained flourishes, despite editing,
and Gluck's Che faro, taken rather fast, was not moving, and certainly
not competitive set against a field with several great performances.
In my experience, the male alto voice in its various manifestations (David
Daniels is an alto musico according to the notes here) is vulnerable
to close studio miking, and I find him less convincing here than heard live.
Daniels' voice is soft grained and his rather generalised fast vibrato
quickly becomes wearing - these arias are, in any case, better taken in small
groups. I enjoyed greatly the lively, stylish accompaniment by the OAE under
Harry Bicket, which often drew my attention away from the soloist!
Full texts and translations and an informative introduction are included.
Individual tastes vary; with many people still uncomfortable with men singing
high. So this is a CD to sample if possible before purchase. Finally, I have
to record disappointment.
I have made some comparisons from my collection. Angelo Manzotti, the
rediscovered Italian sopranista, was quite spectacular at his British
debut (concert performance, but in full costume!) but his CD is very patchy
(Bongiovanni GB 5566-2). Wait for his next one. For a bench-mark, I return
to the near-veteran James Bowman (still singing superbly) whose experience
and innate musicianship tells; try his Handel recital on Hyperion with The
King's Consort, an object lesson for his (much) younger contenders
Peter Grahame Woolf