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Handel. Giulio Cesare. Concerto Koln, R.jacobs

Album Summary

>Handel, George Frideric : Giulio Cesare
Performers Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

"An excellent cast in one of Handel's greatest operas." -BBC Music

Penguin Guide
The casting of the pure, golden-toned Barbara Schlick as Cleopatra...proves outstandingly successful. Jennifer Larmore too, a fine, firm mezzo with a touch of masculine toughness in the tone, makes a splendid Caesar...Derek Lee Ragin is excellent in the sinister role of Tolomeo; so are Bernarda Fink as Cornelia and Marianne Rorholm as Sesto

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Handel's greatest heroic opera sports no fewer than eight principal characters and one of the largest orchestras he ever used. Undoubtedly this, and the singing of Francesca Cuzzoni (Cleopatra) and Senesino (Caesar), helped to launch GiulioCesare into the enduring popularity that it enjoys to this day. But it's primarily the quality of the music, with barely a weak number in four hours of entertainment, that's made it such a favourite with audiences. Here the period instruments are an immediate advantage in giving extra 'bite' to the many moments Opera Handel 536 of high drama without threatening to drown the singers in forte passages.

This performance is a particularly fine one with an excellent cast; Caesar, originally sung by a castrato, is here taken by the young mezzo, Jennifer Larmore. She brings weight and integrity to the role, seemingly untroubled by the demands of the final triumphant aria, 'Qual torrente'. Occasionally her vibrato becomes intrusive, but that's a minor quibble in a performance of this stature. Handel could just as well have called his opera 'Cleopatra' as she's the pivotal element in the drama, a role taken here by Barbara Schlick and sung with acuity and imagination. If Cleopatra represents strength in a woman, then Cornelia is surely the tragic figure, at the mercy of events.

Her first aria, 'Priva son', here taken very slowly, shows Bernarda Fink to be more than equal to the role, admirable in her steady tone and dignity of character. Derek Lee Ragin's treacherous Ptolemy is also memorable, venom and fire injected into his agile voice. A first-rate cast is supported by René Jacobs and Concerto Köln on fine form, though the continuo line is sometimes less than ideally clear. The recording is excellent.

Gramophone Magazine
I suspect I shall return to this Giulio Cesare at least as often as the rival versions, for much superb Handel singing, for the lively and inventive continuo playing, and for a dramatic flair and immediacy that, at its best, eclipses all comers.


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Works Details

>Handel, George Frideric : Giulio Cesare
  • Performers: Bernarda Fink (Voice); Olivier Lallouette (Baritone); Jennifer Larmore (Mezzo Soprano); Derek Ragin (Countertenor); Marianne Rorholm (Soprano); Barbara Schlick (Soprano); Dominique Visse (Voice); Furio Zanasi (Baritone)
  • Conductor: René Jacobs
  • Running Time: 230 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1724