Getting at Handel's operas and oratorios

Started by Tancata, July 10, 2007, 01:25:37 PM

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Pohjolas Daughter

Quote from: Elgarian Redux on October 01, 2022, 12:24:25 AM
For some unaccountable reason I haven't listened to much Handel for quite a while - probably I overdosed in 2011 or something - but anyway, recently I started listening to the early cantatas again (eg the Glossa series) and was once more blown away.

Having been Handeliously reinvigorated, I wondered if I'd missed out on any recent releases of the cantatas, found a few, and ordered them. In consequence, here and now, I'd like to have a quiet rave about this Great Treasure:



The disc starts with a huge advantage: it contains both Notte placido e cheta, and Armida abbandonata, each of which contains a slow aria that can melt the soul. Listening to 'Ah Crudele!', or 'Zeffiretti, deh venite' takes me to places that no other music can reach. Imagine you're inside a painting by Claude Lorraine - one of those autumnal Italian landscapes with ruins and shepherds. The evening is mild, all is right with the world (apart from a certain gentle existential sadness). There's a gentle wind blowing in, and if you listen closely, the music it's carrying with it, tinkling down through the air, is one of those two above-named arias.

The singer is Roberta Mameli. She sings with a soft vibrato that seems to evoke this sort of imagery. I know vibrato often divides people significantly, but all I can say is, Mameli sounds perfect to me. If there were a pipe to Heaven, through which music could come to us, this is the music I'd expect to hear coming out of it. I can't recommend this highly enough.
What a beautiful description!  :)

I had to check out her singing after reading that, and found that she has a channel on youtube--exquisite voice and singing!  Here's a sample of her singing a Handel aria (from Rinaldo):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eweyuOT41Fg&list=PL_jM76iswEzFpo-QC48oUjhPTgrcFaNyH&index=3

Quote from: Jo498 on October 01, 2022, 12:48:45 AM
If you haven't heard it and it is still findable, try the two cantata discs with Maria Zadori (on Brilliant, originally Hungaroton). There is one duo piece with a male alto I like considerably less (duello amoroso or sth.) but the others are all very good, also incl. Notte placida, Delirio amoroso and Ero e Leandro (maybe not the exact title but it's Hero's grief after Leander drowned.
Haven't heard of Maria Zadori before but will check out her singing too.

Thanks to you both for mentioning them.

PD

Jo498

Maria Zadori also appeared in a bunch of other recordings (hungaroton, Naxos, cpo, MDG...), such as Handel's Brockes-Passion (more a piece for hardcore fans, although it does also have some beautiful arias), also some Bach, Telemann, lots of lesser known 17th+18th cent. church music and Mozart (e.g. Exsultate, Jubilate).
The Handel set has Delirio amoroso, Aggrippina condotta a morire, Crudel tiranno amor, Notte placida e cheta, Ero e Leandro and that duello amoroso where I didn't care for the male Altus. The recordings also appeared in some other Brilliant boxes although they started (and apparently abandoned) their own series of Handel's Italian cantatas.

[asin]B00009W3RL[/asin]
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

Elgarian Redux

#882
Quote from: Jo498 on October 01, 2022, 12:48:45 AM
If you haven't heard it and it is still findable, try the two cantata discs with Maria Zadori (on Brilliant, originally Hungaroton). There is one duo piece with a male alto I like considerably less (duello amoroso or sth.) but the others are all very good, also incl. Notte placida, Delirio amoroso and Ero e Leandro (maybe not the exact title but it's Hero's grief after Leander drowned.

Oh yes, I have been a passionate advocate of Maria Zadori's Handel cantatas for some years now, and I agree wholeheartedly with you that they are emphatically not to be missed (I believe I left a trail of posts discussing her Handel recordings some years back). Those recordings, for anyone interested, are still available, and are included in the bargain Brilliant box set of Handel cantatas:



If you don't want to fork out for the big Brilliant box, no matter. I've just checked, and the very affordable two-disc Zadori set is indeed still available on Amazon uk here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Capella-Savaria-Concerto-Armonico-Nicholas/dp/B00009W3RL/ref=sr_1_10?crid=2THYQRONIUQP8&keywords=handel+cantatas+brilliant&qid=1664632382&qu=eyJxc2MiOiIxLjE0IiwicXNhIjoiMC4wMCIsInFzcCI6IjAuMDAifQ%3D%3D&s=music&sprefix=handel+cantatas+brilliant%2Cpopular%2C1203&sr=1-10

Jo498's recommendation is spot on - don't hesitate. Just get one while you can. (But get the Mameli as well.)

Jo498

A remarkable feature of "Notte placida e cheta" is that the brief last aria is a fugue with the soprano having one voice, the other violin and bass IIRC. It's more like something Bach would do with some symbolic meaning, I wondered if maybe here also the somewhat stoic text is the reason for the strict form.

Despite most of the large scale oratorios and operas getting more performances and recordings nowadays, these Italian cantatas are still not getting quite the recognition they deserve although there are far more available recordings now than almost 20 years ago when I first got the Zadori in the earlies Brilliant Handel edition (single or double fat jewelcases in a sturdy but very clumsy cardboard box). (The most underrated bunch are for me now the Chandos/Cannons Anthems that still have only one decent complete recording (fittingly on the Chandos label!), despite needing only 4 discs for 11 anthems.)
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

Florestan

For the Italian cantatas I have the Fabio Bonizzoni series on Glossa --- and am perfectly happy with it.

"Art is no excuse for boring people." - Jules Renard

Que

Quote from: Florestan on October 01, 2022, 07:06:37 AM
For the Italian cantatas I have the Fabio Bonizzoni series on Glossa --- and am perfectly happy with it.

Absolutely great series! 

Jo498

The definite article is a bit misleading; the Bonizzoni set claims to have all cantatas with "instrumental accompaniment".
I cannot check this exactly, but they recorded only around 20 cantatas, so if correct that means that there are another ca. 80! (usually only about 10-15 min long) with only basso continuo. The most famous of these that was recorded frequently is "La Lucrezia".
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

Elgarian Redux

#887
Quote from: Florestan on October 01, 2022, 07:06:37 AM
For the Italian cantatas I have the Fabio Bonizzoni series on Glossa --- and am perfectly happy with it.
Very understandable. They are truly wonderful. But what I've discovered about these cantatas is that I can't get enough of them - and to be able to listen to, let's say, Notte placido, sung by Invernizzi one day, Mameli the next, and Zadori after that, generates the sort of wonderment that even kings and queens from the past could never have known.

I was trying in an earlier post to describe the effect they create by thinking of a Claude Lorrain painting:



And when I listen, I find myself imagining a sort of numinous sparkle in the evening air, and experiencing a kind of longing, as if the 17th, 18th and 21st centuries might actually be closer to each other than one might think.

Elgarian Redux

I've forgotten to mention another discovery I made in my recent revisiting of the Handel cantatas - this 2 disc set:

Rather than trying to describe it, I thought it might be most helpful to point to this video, of Sabine Devieilhe singing 'Ah Crudele' - made, I think, during the recording sessions. Her sheer intensity is notable, and makes this set a very welcome addition to my collection of Handel cantatas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3QuCqll-8g

Florestan

Quote from: Elgarian Redux on October 01, 2022, 10:57:11 AM
Very understandable. They are truly wonderful. But what I've discovered about these cantatas is that I can't get enough of them - and to be able to listen to, let's say, Notte placido, sung by Invernizzi one day, Mameli the next, and Zadori after that, generates the sort of wonderment that even kings and queens from the past could never have known.

I was trying in an earlier post to describe the effect they create by thinking of a Claude Lorrain painting:



And when I listen, I find myself imagining a sort of numinous sparkle in the evening air, and experiencing a kind of longing, as if the 17th, 18th and 21st centuries might actually be closer to each other than one might think.

Thank you for this beautiful post, which I missed at the time.
"Art is no excuse for boring people." - Jules Renard