Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

HANDEL'S RIVALS Operatic Hits by London's Favourite Italian composers    Marie Vassiliou (sop) Alasdair Elliott (ten) James Eastaway (oboe) John Trusler and Andrew Roberts (violins) Nicholas Roberts (cello) Jane Clark (harpsichord)    rec 28 May 1999 St Jude on the Hill, Hampstead JANICULUM JAN D203 [59.23]

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Francesco Gasparini (1668-1727)
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
Giovanni Bononcini (1670-1747)
Giovanni Porta (1690-1755)
Filippo Amadei (1683-17??)
Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-17883)
Leonardo Vinci (1690-1730)
Nicola Porpora (1686-1768)

This is not my chosen territory so it was an agreeable surprise to discover that this disc was full of the flightiest music you could imagine. London of the early 1700s must have been an operatic hothouse if these 'hits' are at all representative. They are given here with no feeling of exhumation or post-mortem. There is nothing of the museum case about the celebratory performances. The music simply lifts and flies away in well-judged clarity and exuberance. The two voices (Vassiliou and Elliott) are well nigh ideal in their relaxed and unstrained access to coloratura and lilting melodic line. With its good documentation and full texts (in Italian and English) altogether a rather nice album. It is spoilt, at the margins, by the short playing time. The thing about these aria anthologies is that it is always easy to slip in a few more; so a 75+ minute disc should surely have been possible and would then have made a complete winner in music which has a degree of rarity value. Lovely for what it is but it could have been more generous.


Rob Barnett

Other reviews in the same series
The Country House
The Grand Tour


Rob Barnett

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