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Classical - Released January 31, 2020 | Warner Classics

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Handel spent many years in Italy during his youth and it was here that he composed his anti-heroic comedy, Agrippina, at the age of twenty-four, before eventually settling down in London. Its immoral, corrupt and decadent plots are presented as an inherent part of daily life for the ruling class of ancient Rome, along with their insatiable desire for political and sexual power. Handel was fascinated by Italian music and composed this particular opera in less than three weeks upon the request of a Venetian theatre, where it was then performed some twenty-seven nights in a row. Such was the enormity of the opera’s success that it firmly established the young composer’s reputation in Europe as a result. The score is bursting with emotion and has so many twists and turns that even the Venetians, who were used to these kinds of storylines, were blown away. The colourful libretto includes betrayals, assassinations, feigned love and lies of every kind – all of which are elements that the American film industry delights in incorporating into the films of today under the direction of someone like Martin Scorsese or the Coen brothers. This studio recording was made in the Dolomites in May 2019, in conjunction with a European tour and features a dazzling cast led by the fierce Joyce DiDonato (Agrippina). This is DiDonato is at her very best, combining her vocals with marvellously conducted flourishes. She perfectly encapsulates the difficult, multi-faceted role by reflecting each one of Agrippina’s personality traits, from formidable intelligence and masterful manipulation to being a loving mother and wife. Joining her onstage is an exceptional cast that includes Franco Fagioli (Nerone), Jakub Józef Orliński (Ottone), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Giunone) and Elsa Benoit (Poppea), along with the II Pomo d’Oro ensemble, feverishly conducted by Maxim Emelyanychev. This can only be described as a Handel grand cru. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 22, 2019 | Alia Vox

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A tireless researcher of ancient and baroque music across all continents, Jordi Savall hadn't ever tackled Handel's Messiah before a series of five concerts in Dole, Besançon, Paris, Barcelona and Versailles in December 2017. And it's that latter concert which features on this new album. In it, we find the Concert des Nations with Manfredo Kraemer as the concertmeister and the faithful instrumentalists of La Capella Reial de Catalunya. Savall assembled a team of soloists with Rachel Redmond, soprano, Damien Guillon, countertenor (who sings parts originally written for a woman's voice), Nicholas Mulroy, tenor and Matthias Winckler, bass. This project was made possible thanks to a Franco-Spanish collaboration. The project matured in the beautiful and historic surroundings of the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans, before taking off for a tour of the two countries and winding up as a Christmas present for many fans of Catalan music. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released July 19, 2019 | PentaTone

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The Akademie für Alte Musik reveals its performance of Handel’s first six concertos from Opus 6 in true chamber music spirit, which sometimes brings Handel’s universe closer to that of his continental counterpart, Georg Philipp Telemann, whose work has often been played and recorded by the Berlin ensemble musicians (including several indispensable albums for the French label Harmonia Mundi). For this magnificently recorded first part of their Handel trilogy, which includes the two opuses 3 and 6, recorded in the Nikodemuskirche in Berlin between September 2018 and February 2019, the Akademie für Alte Musik paints rich, striking colours (already showcased in their album Water Music) while remaining attentive to polyphonies and phrasing. This record is a real pleasure throughout, and perhaps even more compelling than their recent album Water Music. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 17, 2020 | PentaTone

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This second volume of Handel’s Concerti grossi from Opus 6 was recorded by the Akademie für Alte Musik in Berlin under the direction of Bernhard Frock, completing the first part published in July 2019. Once again, the sound recording is magnificently natural, brilliantly capturing the venue’s spatiality and the instruments’ full-bodied timbres. Among the many great qualities of this Handel trilogy (the third edition will include the Concerti, Op. 3), the ensemble’s perfectly united playing stands out, without any of the hard or speedy gushes that so often become the hallmarks of less stylistically astute ensembles. While Handel used Corelli as a model for his concerto grosso, importing it to London, the Berlin musicians offer a calm and serene version, one which is often steeped with melancholy, the fruit of a mature composer who absorbed all the different musical styles he heard around him and turned it into something truly unique. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Opera - Released June 26, 2020 | SDG

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Opera or oratorio? The question has remained unanswered since the disastrous creation of Semele in Covent Garden in 1744. Attacked by both opera critics and devotees, both parties accusing him of turning theatres into temples by playing his oratorios, Handel was no longer popular in the British capital. In doing so, he reconnected with Greek mythology through Ovid and his librettists in a work intended to satisfy both sides.Semele contains several large passages, including a splendid quartet in the first act, which was extremely rare at the time. But it was a complete failure and the new work was on display only for four short evenings. John Eliot Gardiner first recorded Semele at the beginning of the 80s for Erato Records, to varying degrees of success. He revisited the work in 2019 for a series of concerts given in Paris, Barcelona, Milan (La Scala), Rome and London, where the new version was recorded on 2nd May 2019.Gardiner sets the record straight in a way with this recording that does full justice to this hybrid work thanks to excellent soloists, starting with soprano Louise Alder in the title role. His great sensitivity, the rich palette of vocal colours and the touching expressiveness are all incredibly admirable. The protagonists surrounding him, mezzo-soprano Lucile Richardot, tenor Hugo Hymas, countertenor Carlo Vistoli, bass Gianluca Buratto and a few soloists from the choir, complete a coherent and flawless cast. As an untiring discoverer of new voices, Sir John Eliot Gardiner gives a beautiful impetus to this work. The Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists are as sparkling as ever. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released December 1, 1991 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released March 16, 2018 | Evidence

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Classical - Released August 14, 2020 | PentaTone

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The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin's Handel-shaped debut series for Pentatone is very much keeping up the high standards with this third installment, featuring the Opus 3 collection of concerti grossi.Published by John Walsh in 1734, but more likely to have been written during the 1710s when Handel was newly arrived in London and hopping between its opera house and the homes of wealthy patrons, this collection looks on paper like quite the hodgepodge: a two-movement concerto here, five movements there, four somewhere else.... And the reason is that they were in fact assembled from operatic overtures - and indeed the concept of an orchestral concerto was still very much in its early days back then. For instance, No. 4 was first performed as a second overture in the opera Amadigi, on the orchestra's benefit night on 20 June 1716. In fact only the final movement of No. 6 would appear to date from the 1730s, so for all these separate entities to have ended up in orchestral concerto form in the 1730s is likely to have been thanks to business savviness on the part of Walsh, tapping into Britain's huge appetite for Corelli's Concerti grossi (which Handel was influenced by), and also its burgeoning amateur music scene. Unlike Corelli's famous Op. 6 Concerti grossi though, Handel's opera-born Opus 3 collection really shines the spotlight on the woodwind, and you hear that right from the off with No. 1 in B-flat. Most gorgeously so in the central Largo, which opens with duetting recorders supported by bassoon, and which as a whole is delivered with immensely elegant sobriety and a lovely flow. Also to be enjoyed in this concerto is the smooth class and affective shaping with which concertmaster Georg Kallweit dispatches his solos in the joyful opening Allegro; the smoothness of the continuo cello's jumping figures No. 2's Largo; the delicacy of the harpsichord's filigree flourish at the end of No. 2's concluding Vivace; the fabulous neatness and bounce at every turn from the bassoons. Indeed, as with the previous two volumes, nimble neatness, class and polish are the buzzwords across these performances. Plus, in engineering terms, the same satisfying warmth, balance and blend, and pleasing awareness of the Nikodemuskirche acoustic. In short, another success notched up. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Archiv Produktion

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Classical - Released October 9, 2007 | LSO Live

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Classical - Released February 5, 2016 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released November 20, 2020 | Mirare

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released October 24, 2014 | Erato - Warner Classics

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Opera - Released October 16, 2020 | Aparté

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For the French soprano Élisabeth Duparc, known as “La Francesina”, Handel composed no fewer than twelve principal roles in major works – operas and oratorios – written towards the end of his life. She took the title role in Semele, for instance, and the parts of Michal in Saul and Nitocris in Belshazzar. Nothing is known of her life: only Handel's works remain to testify to her talent and aura. They are brought to life here by the brilliant and virtuoso voice of Sophie Junker, accompanied by Franck-Emmanuel Comte's Concert de l'Hostel Dieu: sometimes mischievous ("Myself I shall adore"), sometimes penetrating ("In sweetest harmony they lived"), the soprano resurrects her model and magnificently digs out all the nuances of Handel's genius. Sophie Junker and the Concert de l’Hostel Dieu pay tribute to her here through some of her most successful roles as the composer’s muse. © Aparté
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released October 31, 2006 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique
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Classical - Released August 14, 2020 | Ricercar

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Classical - Released October 4, 2019 | Academy of Ancient Music

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Handel's Brockes Passion, HWV 48, so-called because it sets a distinctive German-language text by Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747), is not often performed or recorded. The work has been thought to suffer both in comparison to Bach's Passion settings (a judgment Bach himself did not share -- he admired the work and may have included it in the pastiche St. Mark Passion, BWV 247) and to Handel's more Apollonian later choral works. The Brockes Passion might be called operatic: neither the Evangelist nor the chorus has much to do, and the action takes place among a fairly large set of principal singers. The cast, headed by Cody Quattlebaum as Jesus and Gwilym Bowen as Peter, rises to the occasion. However, "operatic" is an incomplete term. Brockes' libretto, drawing on all four gospels, comprises a group of punchy, sharp chunks that convey the Passion story in unusually physical, often even gory terms. Handel responds with music that, whether the work chimes with you or not, fits this text unusually well. There are few da capo arias; instead, there is a sequence of short, dramatic moments that bring out the physicality of Brockes' text. Sample Peter's outburst "Gift und Glut, Strahl und Flut." The work on the first two CDs includes no fewer than 105 tracks. The third CD includes alternate versions and the like, and extensive essays about the work are included. Egarr's large continuo group adds to the drama, but he doesn't overdo the gore; he lets it speak for itself. A convincing reading that makes a strong case for the Brockes Passion as a neglected masterwork. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released October 1, 2012 | Passacaille

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Classical - Released November 3, 2017 | Evidence

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Composed during his Italian stay at the beginning of the 18th century, Handel's cantatas, interpreted by the soprano Anna Kasyan, draw a nuanced picture of opera heroin's heart. At this time, women were not often allowed to appear in front of an audience. It's now up to Anna Kasyan to express the multiple shades of a woman’s emotional life in this theatrical and virtuoso program. Crowned at the Vincenzo Bellini Belcanto Competition, she shows great technique in the ornamentation, and polishes the phrasing at the nearest of the text and affects.

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Georg Friedrich Händel in the magazine