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Handel: Cantatas & Trio Sonatas / Johanna Koslowsky, Musica Alta Ripa

Release Date: 03/10/2009 
Label:  Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm) Gold Catalog #: 3090399   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Johanna Koslowsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Alta Ripa
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

HANDEL Dunque sarà pur vero. 1 Nel dolce dell’ oblio. 1 Trio Sonatas for 2 Violins: in B?, op. 2/3, HWV 388; in g, op. 2/5, HWV 390a. Trio Sonata for Recorder and Violin in c, HWV 386a Johanna Koslowsky (sop); 1 Musica alta Ripa (period Read more instruments) MDG 309 0399 (63:03 Text and Translation)

This reissue combines two of Handel’s greatest cantatas with three of his most tuneful trio sonatas in an appealing program. The two cantatas present contrasting styles. Nel dolce dell’ oblio is in Handel’s pastoral mode, while Dunque sarà pur vero is a dramatic scene for the Empress Agrippina as she reacts to the news that her son Nero has ordered her execution.

Johanna Koslowsky has the technical accomplishments and personality to make the most of these two works. Heuwell Tircuit, in reviewing the original release of this recording, found her voice “elegantly focused” and “dulcet in timbre,” and he praised her “phrasing and musicianship” ( Fanfare 15:3). She manages to hold her own against stiff competition, especially in Dunque sarà pur vero . If I prefer the performances of Veronique Gens on Virgin and Mária Zádori on Hungaroton in this cantata, it is because they have more colorful voices and are even more dramatic than Koslowsky. In Nel dolce dell’ oblio I prefer Koslowsky over her main competition, Invernizzi on Glossa, whose singing, though much praised by some, is not to my taste.

Musica alta Ripa provides excellent support and gives outstanding performances of the three trio sonatas. The three sonatas may be found in L’Ecole d’Orphée’s recording of the complete chamber music on CRD (also reissued as a bargain box by Brilliant), but Musica alta Ripa’s performances are equally satisfying. Anyone looking to acquire these two cantatas will be very pleased with this disc.

FANFARE: Ron Salemi

There is a freshness about these performances that suggests a group of young players discovering the music for themselves, their reactions uncluttered by weight of experience; and yet they bring to it a natural feeling for style and an unobtrusive sophistication that cannot help being charming. Anyone listening to the quick movements of the trio sonatas will, I think, be captivated by the vivacious rhythms, the light and airy textures, the neatness of the articulation: listen to those spirited interchanges between the violins, the bustling semiquavers, the nicely pointed bass-line in the first Allegro of Op. 2 No. 3, or indeed in the finale (a movement better known in its organ concerto guise, Op. 4 No. 2). And the unassuming eloquence of the slower music is happily caught too, notably in the opening movements of each of these Op. 2 Sonatas. The C minor work, the recorder version of Op. 2 No. 1, is equally enjoyable, with similarly sprightly playing in the quick movements and the quiet gravity of the Andante third movement tellingly captured.

As to the cantatas, there may be more polished, more overtly expressive versions in the catalogue, by better known singers, but the directness and the unaffected quality of Johanna Koslowsky’s singing is persuasive. Occasionally there is an edgy or a harsh note, yet there is real charm in her performance of the opening aria in Pensieri notturni di Filli (an enchanting piece with recorder obbligato), while in the superb and highly affecting Agrippina – an extended work, with four da capo arias embracing a highly original scena, which has attracted surprisingly little attention from singers – she finds a natural yet in the end quite dramatic manner, with an aptly rhetorical mode of delivery in the recitatives. There are details one could criticize, but this is a very appealing record and introduces a Handelian ensemble who clearly enjoy what they are doing and do not fail to communicate that to the listener.

-- Gramophone [1/1998]
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Works on This Recording

Trio Sonata for Recorder/Flute, Violin and Basso Continuo in C minor, HWV 386a/Op. 2 no 1a by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Alta Ripa
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1717-1719; London, England 
Trio Sonata for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo in B flat major, HWV 388/Op 2 no 3 (4) by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Alta Ripa
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1717-1718; London, England 
Trio Sonata for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo in G minor, HWV 390/Op. 2 no 5 (6) by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Alta Ripa
Period: Baroque 
Written: London, England 
Notes: Composition written: London, England (Circa 1717 - Circa 1722). 
Nel dolce dell'oblio, HWV 134 (Pensieri notturni di Filli) by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Johanna Koslowsky (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Alta Ripa
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1707-1710; Italy 
Dunque sarà pur vero, HWV 110 "Agrippina condotta a morire" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Johanna Koslowsky (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Alta Ripa
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1708; Italy 

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