Notes and Editorial Reviews
Jean-Claude Malgoire conducts his Parisian ensemble, La Grande Ecurie et La Chambre du Roy, in a complete 1979 recording of Handel’s delightful comic opera Serse, best known for its universally familiar opening aria “Ombra mai fu”. The distinguished cast includes Carolyn Watkinson, Paul Esswood and Barbara Hendricks.
This is one of the milestone recordings in the history of Handel opera. At the time few of the canon had been recorded, and still fewer in historically-informed practice, as here. Nearly forty years later the recorded sound remains clear and crisp.
Malgoire’s cast is distinguished and creditable, led by Carolyn Watkinson’s assured Serse. Generally she is
radiant, but sometimes she is steely, though that means her whizzing cadenzas are well controlled. There is a slightly brittle wobble in Paul Esswood’s singing as Serse’s brother Arsamene, and there are times when he projects more confidently, though there is haunting forlornness in Act One’s ‘Non so se sia la speme’ and his coloratura is accomplished too. Ortrun Wenkel’s Amastre is sometimes foursquare, but elsewhere there is greater colour in her realisation. More distinguished are Barbara Hendricks’s pure-toned Romilda (sounding almost like a treble in some instances) and Anne-Marie Rodde’s coquettish Atalanta. The Ariodate of Ulrik Cold is languid, but Ulrich Studer as the comic servant Elviro is characterful.
– ClassicalSource.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Serse, HWV 40 by George Frideric Handel
Paul Esswood (Countertenor),
Barbara Hendricks (Soprano),
Ortrun Wenkel (Alto),
Anne Marie Rodde (Soprano),
Ulrik Cold (Bass),
Ulrich Studer (Baritone),
Carolyn Watkinson (Alto)
La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy
Written: 1738; London, England
Date of Recording: 1979
Venue: Paris, France
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