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Handel: Ombra cara

Notes & Reviews:

“A ballsy, risk-taking singer, he flings coloratura about like weaponry and pushes himself to his limits in his quest for musical and dramatic expression. You are conscious of being in the presence of greatness.”-The Guardian

If Handel’s arias enjoy such success today, perhaps it is because they lie at the intersection between past and present, light and shadow. In his first recital for harmonia mundi, Bejun Mehta has performs selections from the repertoire of the famous castrato Senesino. From shadow (“Ombra cara”) to light (“Sento la gioia”), this album re-introduces Mehta’s prodigious talents as a solo artist. Also included is a bonus DVD with interviews and video of the recording sessions. Mehta made his fi rst record in 1983 for Delos when he was a boy soprano. Upon hearing that CD, Leonard Bernstein was moved to comment, “It is hard to believe the richness and maturity of musical understanding in this adolescent boy.” He was also honored by the magazine Stereo Review as the Debut Recording Artist of the Year. After his voice changed, the multi-talented Mehta excelled both as a cellist and a producer, winning a 1997 GRAMMY® award for his work on Janos Starker’s fi nal recording of the Bach Cello Suites. Mehta again took up singing in 1998, inspired by countertenor David Daniels, and has now become one of the most sought-after countertenors of his generation.

”This is, inexplicably, his first recital CD. It's superb.

Mehta differs from other countertenors insofar as his dynamic range is concerned. As René Jacobs points out in the accompanying DVD, Mehta can sing high softly--very rare for this voice type--and has a rich, full alto range. (The DVD is a delightful bonus, showing rehearsals and containing intelligent information.) Furthermore, his phrasing is natural and musical; he can express feelings from rage to ecstasy to yearning by coloring his tone, leaning into a note or phrase. His coloratura is natural and unaspirated; his bottom register takes on a very dark hue without becoming baritonal or chesty. His embellishments are both tasteful and virtuosic--a rare combo--and he has real trills.As suggested, Jacobs and his musicians are magnificent--in addition to their accompaniments/collaborations with Mehta, they play the overture to Rodrigo, which highlights bassoons and oboes and a violin solo. Buy this CD.”-Classicstoday.com

The Times
A superior musician at the peak of his vocal powers. He has luxury support from the Freiburg Barockers and Jacobs, himself a former countertenor and a no less imaginative Handelian. The icing on this sumptuous cake is the gorgeous duet from Sosarme, in which Rosemary Joshua's voice blends ideally with Mehta's. A treat from start to finish.

Gramophone Magazine
Mehta's singing can be astonishingly good...his precise coloratura in direct faster arias is superb...The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra plays excellently, particularly during a passacaglia from Rodrigo.

International Record Review
Mehta deals with and vanquishes any vocal difficulties, for his voice is like a well-oiled engine...[He] employs the colours of his voice skilfully...He is among the best of countertenors, and Handelians should relish these performances. In every piece, the orchestra produces instrumental colour and stylish playing, be it from trumpet or lute. Jacobs lends a wise and experienced hand.

The Guardian
Mehta's way of listening to the orchestra around him, and either allowing his singing to stand out in relief, or to meld with the instrumental textures, produces wonderfully variegated effects and ever-changing perspectives...Mehta's beauty of tone and musical intelligence confirm his position in the highest echelon of contemporary countertenors.


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