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SCENE Handel: Tamerlano / Petrou, Spanos, et al

Album Summary

>Handel, George Frideric : Tamerlano
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Being recorded for the first time, here is the 1724 version of Handel's opera Tamerlano. Performed by the Orchestra of Patras in Greece, splendidly conducted by George Petrou.

BBC Music Magazine
Nicholas Spanos presents the title role positively. His chief opponent, the Turkish Emperor Bajazete, is a complex, weighty role, grasped fully by Tassis Christoyannis. Mati Katsuli delivers a finely detailed account of his daughter Asteriaà The period orchestra's playing fine and George Petrou's conducting expressive and nicely paced.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Tamerlano has done quite well on disc but this is the first recording to adopt the version that Handel decided on for the premiere. The story is grim. Tamerlano - Marlowe's Tamburlaine, now generally called Timur - has captured the Ottoman sultan, Bajazet, whose daughter Asteria he proposes to marry. In the end he marries Irene, to whom he was betrothed, and restores Asteria to her lover Andronico, but only after Bajazet has killed himself.

The audience's sympathies lie with the proud father. The part of Bajazet is usually taken by a tenor; but it lies very low, and it is here sensibly given to a baritone. Whereas Marlowe's Bajazeth spectacularly brains himself onstage, in this version the sultan takes poison and is carried off to die. The music moves from defiance to tenderness and back in recitative and arioso, which Tassis Christoyannis handles with consummate skill. He also expresses the character's dignity and resolve in his Act 1 arias with firm, focused tone.

Mata Katsuli is equally impressive as his daughter. Asteria is a strong character who accepts Tamerlano as her husband in order to murder him in bed, but she is desolate when she thinks Andronico has betrayed her. Katsuli sings with a most affecting passion, combined with tenderness.

Mary-Ellen Nesi makes a strong Andronico, the part written for Senesino. She is rich-toned, as at home in powerful accompanied recitative as in the semiquaver runs of 'Pi· d'una tigre'.

Irini Karaianni is attractively smoky in her siciliano; lovely clarinets but here, as elsewhere, the continuo is inaudible in places. Nicholas Spanos as Tamerlano, 'Scythian Shephearde' though he be, is properly imperial, and he dispatches the coloratura of his last aria with an appropriately wild brilliance. Petros Magoulas has the right bluffness for Leone.

Apart from the problem of balance, there is nothing but praise for George Petrou and his period-instrument orchestra. Just to hear the swelling on a sustained bass note (in the Overture and in Tamerlano's second aria) is to be reassured that all will be well. All is indeed well, and this recording is a most rewarding surprise.


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Works Details

>Handel, George Frideric : Tamerlano
  • Performers: Tassis Christoyiannopoulos (Voice); Irini Karaianni (Mezzo Soprano); Mata Katsuli (Voice); Petros Magoulas (Bass); Mary-Ellen Nesi (Mezzo Soprano); Nicholas Spanos (Voice)
  • Conductor: Georges Petrou
  • Ensemble: Orchestra of Patras
  • Notes: Patras, Greece (07/24/2006-07/30/2006)
  • Running Time: 173 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1724