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Handel: Tolomeo / Curtis, Hallenberg, Gauvin, Basso, et al

Album Summary

>Handel, George Frideric : Tolomeo, HWV 25
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Following highly acclaimed, award-winning recordings of Handel’s 'Rodelinda' and 'Floridante' and Vivaldi's 'Motezuma', Alan Curtis and his Il Complesso Barocco bring another neglected Baroque jewel to life. Written in 1728, 'Tolomeo' is a gripping story of revenge, lust, lost love and eventual reconciliation. It was the final opera created by Handel for the Royal Academy of Music in London, where it was premiered with a sensational cast led by one of the most famous singers of the day, the castrato Senesino. In this recording, Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco are joined by some of today’s leading Handel singers headed by Ann Hallenberg as Tolomeo.

Gramophone Magazine
There is not a weak link in this superb cast, with all the singers perfect for the vocal and dramatic properties of their roles. The overture oozes with charisma and the orchestral playing is beautifully paced and articulated. All in all, this is a perfect Handel opera recording

BBC Music Magazine
Tolomeo is sung here by Ann Hallenberg, whose range of technical skills includes neat runs and a very presentable trill. As his wife Seleuce, Karina Gauvin is charming, and decorates her music gracefully. As Tolomeo's villainous brother Alessandro, Romina Basso's mellow mezzo is well deployed. The orchestral playing is brisk and characterful, while conductor Alan Curtis provides a vital response to the music's needs...

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Tolomeo was the last opera Handel wrote for the Royal Academy of Music before the opera company dissolved in 1728. It is a fine work that combines pastoral charm with some powerfully melodramatic scenes. The best known aria is 'Non lo dirò col labbro' (famous in Somervell's arrangement 'Silent Worship'), here sung sweetly by Romina Basso.

There is not a weak link in this superb cast, with all the singers perfect for the vocal and dramatic properties of their roles. Ann Hallenberg's supple coloratura is perfectly aligned with dramatic awareness and melodic sensibility in numerous accompanied recitatives and arias: the sleep scene in Act 1 is beautifully judged and the hedonistic accompagnato that precedes 'Stile amare' is gripping. Anna Bonitatibus's singing is magnificent, and her ornamentation and cadenza are fabulous. Pietro Spagnoli sings the tyrant Araspe firmly but one also feels a degree of sympathy for his hopeless infatuation with Tolomeo's wife Seleuce. Karina Gauvin's singing is dramatic and colourful: her interplay with two recorders in 'Fonti amiche' is simple yet ravishing and the hushed 'Dite, che fa' (with muted strings and offstage echoes from Tolomeo) is utterly gorgeous.

Alan Curtis's recent Handel opera recordings have been admirable in patches but flawed by inconsistent casts and occasionally weedy instrumental playing. It is a delight to hear the Italianbased American harpsichordist and Il Complesso Barocco back on top-notch form in this delectable performance. The overture oozes with charisma and the orchestral playing is beautifully paced and articulated. Each ritornello shows finesse and a deep-rooted fondness for the subtleties in Handel's writing. Recitatives are never sluggish but Curtis does not force proceedings unnaturally, allowing the language and rhetoric enough space to work their magic.

He has all the energy and dynamism necessary but also realises that courtliness and elegance are vital elements of Handel's music. All in all, this is a perfect Handel opera recording.



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Works Details

>Handel, George Frideric : Tolomeo, HWV 25
  • Performers: Romina Basso (Mezzo Soprano); Anna Bonitatibus (Voice); Karina Gauvin (Soprano); Ann Hallenberg (Mezzo-Soprano); Pietro Spagnoli (Bass)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Composition written: 1728.
  • Running Time: 124 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1728