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Chamber Music - Released February 9, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
It was for the occasion of the Covent Garden premiere of his oratorio Joshua in 1748, that Handel composed – or rather arranged – the first of his three Concerti a due cori (« Cori » does not mean here a vocal group, but two instrumental groups – two oboes, two horns, and one bassoon each, a total of ten soloists – answering to each other on the playing grounds provided by the strings), namely the HWV 332. At that time, it was customary to lighten up performances of the largest compositions, especially oratorios, with a sprinkling of instrumental pieces. But as Handel was a busy man and a businessman, and producing so much music so fast was no easy feat. This accounts for the fact that so many of his instrumental pieces are in fact recyclings – transcriptions, reorchestrations, transcriptions, according to what was available and requested – of earlier works, mostly his own, sometimes that of fellow composers – who would not necessarily be informed of the pillage. In the case of Concerto a due cori No. 1, Handel plundered a handful of his own operas and oratorios. The second of Handel's Concerti a due cori, HWV 333, written around the beginning of 1747, was premiered at Covent Garden in 1748 as part of a huge musical banquet, the main course of which was the brand new oratorio Alexander Balus. Here, the composer drew from some of his own English oratorios: Esther and Messiah, the latter still quite unknown. The wind groups take over melodic lines given to singers in the original choral versions of the adapted music. The third Concerto, HWV 334, contains mostly brand new music – yes! – even though the first movement is reworked in part from Handel's so-called Fitzwilliam Overture, for two clarinets and horn, while the concluding Allegro, with its brilliant and difficult horn writing, is a rewrite of a hunting aria from his own opera Partenope. For this recording, the Freiburger Barockorchester has added a twist: each soloist group is accompanied by its own string ensemble, thus creating a higly energetic stereo effect. One orchestra is conducted (from the violin) by Gottfried von der Goltz, the other – also from the Konzertmeister position – by Petra Müllejans. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 6, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
For this performance, Philippe Jaroussky has picked a bouquet of pieces from lesser-known operas. Siroe, Riccardo primo, Flavio, Tolomeo and many others, written for the London stage between 1715 and 1740. With his Artaserse ensemble, which Jaroussky considers to have been the place where he has been able to fully mature, over several years of playing concerts all over the world,  the counter-tenor also presents a reflection on the repertoire of the castrato. Because, since this little procedure was discontinued, the singers tackling these roles have been performing airs which were not written for us, and have to be adapted to us. Bearing in mind that when Haendel put on an opera with a different troupe, he didn't hesitate to re-work entire roles to adapt them to new singers; Jaroussky has taken it upon himself to do the same for some of these airs, which he knows are not suited to his type of voice, and for which original versions with the correct tones are not always available. Regardless, this is an excellent exploration of Haendel's rarities, with some virtuoso turns, and material running from the introverted to the narrative, the lyrical to the explosive. Note that Artaserse are playing without a conductor, Jaroussky leading from the front, with his voice. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released December 1, 1991 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Opera Extracts - Released January 12, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik - 5 étoiles de Classica
This album isn't just for fans of the counter-tenor's voice - Franco Fagiolo being one of the stars in the market - but also for lovers of the airs from Handel’s operas, and any serious baroque orchestra enthusiast, the orchestra here being Il Pomo d'Oro. When you unite all these elements together in a recording, the result is spectacular. This record includes the thrills of big hits like "Ombra mai fu" from Serse or "Cara sposa" from Rinaldo, as well as a number of no-less-interesting rarities, which have the advantage of shining a light on the lesser played works of the caro Sassone. After all, Ariodante, Partenope, Imeneo and Oreste (the album covers the composer's entire period of lyrical creativity) all have some great moments, and completely original airs, often loaded with the instrumental surprises that Handel arranged so well. And so, fans, if all three of the big elements are there - or if you are just curious to hear a very well made record - get stuck in! © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 13, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet
Why record yet another of Handel’s Messiah, asks Hervé Niquet, when the market is already flooded by over a hundred different references? And he answers that he went through the different scores that exist and decided on the very interesting 1754 version which features five soloists instead of the usual four, devised for the annual Messiah production at London’s Foundling Hospital. It must be remembered that, when Handel arrived somewhere to perform his oratorio, he had soloists of varying standards available to him. So he would quickly revise his score accordingly to produce a new version form of his Messiah. When examining the various rewritings that resulted, one may observe that soprano arias have been transposed for alto, that a bass aria has been reduced to half its length – the singer for that particular production must have been rather weak. All this is directly related to the reality of Handel’s situation as a concert promoter. In those days, to earn a living from his music, a composer – royalties did not exist yet, and publishers would recklessly pillage scores without bothering to refer to the composer – had to get his works performed and make a profit on the box office. The idea of not retouching a work to avoid ‘spoiling’ or ‘distorting’ it is a much more modern one. There must be around a dozen versions of Messiah, most by Handel himself, others rewritten later – by Mozart for one of them. The 1754 version is rarely performed because it calls for five soloists: two sopranos, alto, tenor and bass. The listener of this new recording will thus be sent back over 250 years ago in London’s Foundling Hospital. © SM/Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released October 24, 2014 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica
A spectacular version on period instruments in historically informed style, Emmanuelle Haïm's rendition of George Frideric Handel's Messiah with Le Concert d'Astrée was among the finest to appear in 2014. Vigorous in rhythm and brisk in tempo, the performance is extremely lively and exciting, without a trace of traditional religiosity or stodginess, and the drama inherent in Handel's music is brilliantly realized in the energetic singing and playing. Featuring soprano Lucy Crowe, countertenor Andrew Staples, tenor Tim Mead, and bass Christopher Purves in a well-balanced quartet, and a chamber choir and orchestra that are as limber as they are lean, the oratorio moves at a rapid clip and takes little time to brood. Even the customarily slow numbers move along at a comfortable walking pace, and Haïm ensures that they maintain interest through transparent textures, fresh ornamentation, and forward momentum. This interpretation may be a little too exciting for listeners who like their Messiah reflective and reverent, but fans of the streamlined counterpoint and scintillating timbres of Baroque performance practice will enjoy the vitality and bright sonorities of this recording. Highly recommended, whether on CD, SACD, or digital download.
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Classical - Released January 1, 1997 | Archiv Produktion

Distinctions Diapason d'or du siècle - Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released January 1, 1999 | Deutsche Grammophon Classics

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Classical - Released November 20, 2012 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released October 1, 2012 | Passacaille

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Special Soundchecks
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Chamber Music - Released April 15, 2008 | Alia Vox

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Symphonic Music - Released September 27, 2010 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released March 16, 2018 | Evidence

Hi-Res Booklet
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Classical - Released February 10, 2008 | Passacaille

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released March 9, 2015 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet
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Classical - Released May 26, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
One should not think that at the time when Handel was around, an opera was a finished product, etched in stone, the score of which was some kind of Holy Grail that would not suffer any tampering with, be it so benign. From that point of view, Handel’s Ottone is a case in point. Some extensive adjustments probably arose from Handel’s collaboration with the famous prima donna Francesca Cuzzoni, who had arrived in London in December 1722, but a fortnight before the first performance, and immediately threw a tantrum. Several of her arias she rejected and had had Handel substitute with entirely different new music. According to Mainwaring’s Memoirs of the Life of the Late George Frederic Handel (1760), having one day some words with Cuzzoni on her refusing to sing the aria Falsa imagine, the composer had shouted, in French: “I know very well that you are a veritable she-devil: but I will show you that I am Beelzebub the Chief of the Devils ” and with this he took her up by the waist, and, if she uttered another word, swore that he would fling her out of the window. This being said, many of the modifications he made during the rehearsal period had nothing to do with Cuzzoni. All in all, eleven arias and one duet were finished but then discarded and replaced before the first performance, and several other arias were considerably revised . It is impossible to determine which changes were instigated by Handel himself on artistic grounds and which were compromises in order to satisfy his singers’ whims and overblown egos. In addition to rejections, redrafts of scenes and wholesale substitutions by Handel during the opera’s composition and preparation, further amendments were also made during its first run . Moreover, he replaced and also added several extra arias for the twelfth performance, which took place on 26 March 1723 after a break of several weeks because of Lent. So: what does “the real” Ottone look like? This recording presents a reconstruction of the complete first performance version, but it also incorporates Handel’s expansions to two scenes reworked especially for Cuzzoni. As an appendix, there are three bonus tracks of new arias composed for the title-role in Handel’s 1726 revival, making it an Ottone as complete as possible. All this extra music will allow the listener to enjoy even more the great voices of the recording, to begin with the countertenor Max Cencic, but also the soprano Lauren Snouffer – who sings the part initially held by the infamous Cuzzoni –, accompanied by the ensemble Il pomo d’oro playing on period instruments and conducted by George Petrou. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 1983 | Decca

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released January 1, 2009 | Deutsche Grammophon Classics

Booklet Distinctions Diamant d'Opéra Magazine
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Classical - Released February 1, 2006 | Mirare

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 2, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Giulia Frasi is best known to posterity for having given the first performances of the principal soprano parts in Handel’s last oratorios – all of them containing vivid scenes of sentimental and spiritual drama that depict suffering women reacting to extremely distressing events with courage, dignity, and selflessness. This album explores her speciality: playing characters whose emotional journeys are charted with affecting pathos. However, the thirty-one-year career that Frasi enjoyed in London was broader, more complicated, and richer than being merely Handel’s last prima donna. Retracing her music making in different environments – not only operas and oratorio concerts in theatres but also music in numerous other contexts – reveals a perfect microcosm of the cultural and stylistic diversity of musical life in mid-eighteenth-century Britain. It is a story that has seldom been told, and has never before been presented through a cross-section of Frasi’s musical repertoire. Reputedly trained in Milan and having made her operatic debutin Italy, Frasi came to Britain to join Lord Middlesex’s Italian opera company in 1742 – not long after Handel had decided to stop composing and performing operas on the London stage. Initially allocated minor roles but gradually rising in importance to the company, Frasi participated in at least fourteen opera seasons at the King’s Theatre on the Haymarket between November 1742 and 1761. Her early London appearances in 1743 prompted this recollection by Charles Burney in his General History of Music: Giulia ‘Frasi was at this time young, and interesting in person, with a sweet and clear voice, and a smooth and chaste style of singing, which, though, cold and unimpassioned, pleased natural ears, and escaped the censure of critics.’ Burney praised the fact that, having come to this country at an early period of her life, ‘she pronounced our language in singing in a more articulate and intelligible manner than the natives.’ It seems that Handel’s attention was attracted by her determination to sing articulately in English – which coincided with her increasing usefulness to the topsy-turvy Italian opera company – and an emerging knack for conveying musical pathos. Soprano Ruby Hughes, who has chosen a large variety of works, not only by Haendel but also from all of Frasi’s London repertoire, from Arne to Smith, won first Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2009 London Handel Singing Competition, and is also a former BBC New Generation Artist. She made her debut at Theater an der Wien with René Jacobs, She has sung major roles at the Buxton International Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, London Handel Festival, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Musikfestspiele Potsdam, and Schwetzinger Festspiele, as well as at English National Opera, Garsington Opera, Scottish Opera among so many others. © SM/Qobuz