WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Handel: Alcina / Leitner, Sutherland, Wunderlich

Release Date: 01/27/2009 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001250302   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Norma ProcterDame Joan SutherlandJeannette van DijckFritz Wunderlich,   ... 
Conductor:  Ferdinand Leitner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cappella ColoniensisCologne Radio Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  
On sale! $24.98
CD:  $22.49
Back Order

Notes and Editorial Reviews

HANDEL Alcina Ferdinand Leitner, cond; Joan Sutherland ( Alcina ); Jeannette van Dijck ( Morgana ); Norma Procter ( Bradamante ); Fritz Wunderlich ( Ruggiero ); Nicola Monti ( Oronte ); Thomas Hemsley ( Melisso ); Cologne RCh Read more class="ARIAL12">(Bernhard Zimmermann, dir); Cappella Coloniensis DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 001250302, mono (2 CDs: 151:54 Text and Translation) Live: Cologne 5/15/1959

This recording preserves a concert performance held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Handel’s death. Ironically, Joan Sutherland and Fritz Wunderlich were not originally scheduled to participate, yet it is their singing that gives this recording its value and accounts for its many incarnations on LP and CD. Nicola Monti, who was supposed to sing Ruggiero, had learned the role of Oronte for the performance, a reasonable mistake, considering that Oronte is the only tenor role in the opera. When the mistake was discovered, he did not believe that he had time to learn the other role, and the vocal line, transposed down an octave, did not fit his voice well. Wunderlich agreed to learn the role in time for the concert. Sutherland, who had performed the role a couple of years earlier, was a replacement for an indisposed singer.

Sutherland sings magnificently. She sounds even better here than on her celebrated Decca recording three years later. The voice is evenly produced throughout its range, and she is fully invested in the drama, despite the absence of a staged performance. Wunderlich, too, is spectacular. Despite having to cope with music written for a much higher voice, he has no problem with the florid music, although he makes occasional adjustments in the vocal line to help with the tessitura.

The rest of the cast is not in the same league; they sing well enough, but do not make much of an impression. Leitner’s tempos are a little slower than we have become accustomed to of late, but he paces the opera well. The Cappella Coloniensis was a pioneer in the early movement toward performance practice. The CD booklet says it was the first modern orchestra to perform on period instruments, although the results here sound like modern instruments. But we do get recorders instead of flutes where Handel indicates “flauto,” and the pitch is 415 Hz. Da capo ornaments in general are tasteful and idiomatic.

The score is fiercely cut. The role of Oberto is completely eliminated. Aside from his three arias, two others are cut entirely. In addition, four arias lose their B section and da capo ; six arias and the trio have their first section cut during the da capo . One movement of the act I ballet is cut, as is the entire ballet at the end of act II.

Deutsche Grammophon proclaims this as the first “official” release of the recording, which has appeared on various pirate labels. Ralph Lucano, reviewing a previous incarnation in 13: 4, said that the sound was outstanding, so I am not sure anything other than legitimacy and a translation of the libretto are gained by the current release.

To experience Sutherland’s Alcina in all its glory, with all roles sung at their correct pitch in a nearly complete recording, her Decca recording is essential. Outstanding on that recording are all her colleagues: Teresa Berganza, Monica Sinclair, Mirella Freni, Graziella Sciutti, Luigi Alva, and Ezio Flagello. But Wunderlich’s singing alone is worth the cost of these discs; when combined with Sutherland’s performance, the attraction is hard to resist.

FANFARE: Ron Salemi
Read less

Works on This Recording

Alcina, HWV 34 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Norma Procter (Alto), Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano), Jeannette van Dijck (Mezzo Soprano),
Fritz Wunderlich (Tenor), Nicola Monti (Tenor), Thomas Hemsley (Baritone)
Conductor:  Ferdinand Leitner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cappella Coloniensis,  Cologne Radio Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735; London, England 
Date of Recording: 5/15/1959 
Venue:  Live Cologne, Germany 

Featured Sound Samples

Alcina: "Di' cor mio, quanto t'amai"
Alcina: "La bocca vaga"

Sound Samples

Alcina / Overture: Grave -
Alcina / Act 2: S'acqieti / E la tua pace
Alcina / Act 2: Ama, sospira, ma non t'offende
Alcina / Overture: Allegro
Alcina / Overture: Musette
Alcina / Act 2: Non scorgo
Alcina / Overture: Menuet
Alcina / Act 2: Mio bel tesoro
Alcina / Act 1: Oh Dei! Quivi non scorgo
Alcina / Act 2: Regina, sei
Alcina / Act 2: Ah! mio cor! schemito sei!
Alcina / Act 1: O s'apre al riso
Alcina / Act 1: Questo è il cielo de' contenti
Alcina / Act 2: Or, che dici
Alcina / Act 2: E' un folle, è un vil affetto
Alcina / Act 1: Ballo Gavotte
Alcina / Act 2: Eccomi
Alcina / Act 1: Ballo Menuett
Alcina / Act 2: Verdi prati
Alcina / Act 1: Ballo Alla breve
Alcina / Act 2: Ah! Ruggiero crudel, tu non mi amasti!
Alcina / Act 1: Ecco l'infido
Alcina / Act 1: Di' cor mio, quanto t'amai
Alcina / Act 2: Ombre pallide, lo so, mi udite
Alcina / Act 3: Sinfonia
Alcina / Act 1: Mi ravvisi, Ruggier
Alcina / Act 1: Di te mi rido, semplice stolto
Alcina / Act 3: Voglio amare
Alcina / Act 3: Credete al mio dolore
Alcina / Act 1: Qua dunque
Alcina / Act 3: Minganna
Alcina / Act 1: È gelosia, forza è d'amore
Alcina / Act 3: Un momento di contento
Alcina / Act 1: La cerco invano
Alcina / Act 3: Molestissimo
Alcina / Act 1: Semplicetto! a donna credi?
Alcina / Act 3: Ma quando tornerai
Alcina / Act 1: Ah, infedele, infedel!
Alcina / Act 3: Tutta d'armat
Alcina / Act 1: Se nemico mi fossi
Alcina / Act 3: Sta nell'Ircana pietrosa tana
Alcina / Act 1: La bocca vaga
Alcina / Act 3: Niuna forza
Alcina / Act 1: A quai strani perigli
Alcina / Act 3: Mi restano le lagrime
Alcina / Act 1: Tornami a vagheggiar
Alcina / Act 3: Sin per le vie
Alcina / Act 2: Col celarvi a chi v'ama un momento
Alcina / Act 3: Le lusinghe
Alcina / Act 2: Qual portento mi richiama
Alcina / Act 2: Atlante, dove sei?
Alcina / Act 3: Non è amor, né gelosia
Alcina / Act 2: Pensa a chi geme
Alcina / Act 3: Prendi, e vivi.Ruggiero vuol la tua libertà
Alcina / Act 2: Qual odio
Alcina / Act 3: Dall'orror
Alcina / Act 3: Entrée
Alcina / Act 2: Vorrei vendicarmi del perfido cor
Alcina / Act 3: Tamburino
Alcina / Act 2: Chi scuopre al mio pensiero
Alcina / Act 2: Mi lusinga il dolce affetto
Alcina / Act 3: Dopo tante amare pene

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title