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Handel: Mezzo-Soprano Opera Arias / Max Emanuel Cencic


Release Date: 04/06/2010 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 94574  
Composer:  George Frideric HandelRobert Schumann
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Magnificent singing.

This is a cracking disc of Handel opera arias from the Croatian-born counter-tenor Max Emanuel Cencic. Totally captivating from beginning to end, it includes famous and not-so-well known arias originally written for both male and female singers. 

Other than their sheer beauty and technical demands, there seems to be no common connection between the arias selected - although they do extend across Handel’s operatic career, from Agrippina (Venice, 1709) to Imeneo (London, 1740). Listeners hoping for some sense of dramatic place within the operas will be disappointed. There are no introductory recitatives or ensemble pieces. But that is no great matter. What we have,
Read more instead, are - as the ex-Vienna choir boy explains in the introduction to the sleeve-notes - a box of brilliant operatic jewels.
 
Most of the arias were written specifically for male castrati, including the celebrated Senesino and Giovanni Carestini. But there are several, too, composed for female singers, such as the long-serving Margherita Durastanti. Consequently, the recording features vocal showcases at different registers. Cencic excels most in the lower range, bringing strength and force to arias such as ‘Benché mi sprezzi’ from Tamerlano (track 4) and the simple but affecting ‘Verdi allori’ from Orlando (track 11). But his upper register dexterity is also on show in the racy ‘Come nube, che fugge del vento’ from Agrippina (track 9). Here, he is ably supported by the sinewy strings of I Barocchisti, which, give an insight into Nero’s scheming, duplicitous character.
 
Both Cencic and conductor Diego Fasolis have opted for quicker than average tempos in several of the arias - in ‘Benché mi sprezzi’ and ‘Pena tirana’ from Amadigi di Gaula (track 6), for example. This can downplay the intensity of the music, but is wholly appropriate in the more spirited arias, such as the opening ‘Sorge nell’ alma mia’ from Imeneo (track 1), in which the orchestra also goes hell for leather with jabbing strings and fistfuls of harpsichord notes. Indeed, I Barocchisti come into their own several times, notably in the tender ‘Pena tiranna’ and ‘Qual leon che fere irato’ from Arianna in Creta (track 7), which includes some fantastic horn flourishes. Excellent contributions, too, from the chorus of Swiss Italian radio in the two excerpts from Handel’s pastoral serenata Parnasso in Festa (tracks 8 and 12).
 
-- John-Pierre Joyce, MusicWeb International  
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Works on This Recording

1.
Imeneo, HWV 41: Sorge nell'alma mia by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1740; London, England 
2.
Il Floridante, HWV 14: Alma mia by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1721; London, England 
3.
Arianna in Creta, HWV 32: Sol ristoro de' mortali... Salda quercia in erta balza by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1721/1734; London, England 
4.
Serse, HWV 40: Se bramate d'amar, chi vi sdegna by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738; London, England 
5.
Amadigi di Gaula, HWV 11: Pena tiranna by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1715; London, England 
6.
Arianna in Creta, HWV 32: Qual leon che fere irato by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1721/1734; London, England 
7.
Il parnasso in festa, HWV 73: Non tardate Fauni ancora by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
8.
Agrippina, HWV 6: Come nube che fugge dal vento by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1709; Italy 
9.
Radamisto, HWV 12: Ombra cara di mia sposa by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1712/1720; London, England 
10.
Orlando, HWV 31: Verdi allore, sempre unito by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733; London, England 
11.
Symphonic Etudes for Piano, Op. 13 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Diego Fasolis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Barocchisti
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837/1852; Germany 

Sound Samples

Imeneo HWV 41 (1740) : Sorge nell'alma mia
Floridante HWV 14 (1721) : Alma mia
Arianna in Creta: Salda quercia, inerta balza
Tamerlano HWV 18 (1724) : Benché mi sprezzi
Serse HWV 40 (1738) : Se bramate d'amar chi vi sdegna
Amadigi di Gaula HWV 11 (1715) : Pena tiranna
Arianna in Creta HWV 32 (1734) : Qual leon che fere irato
Parnasso in festa HWV 73 : Non tardate Fauni ancora
Agrippina HWV 6 (1709) : Come nube, che fugge dal vento
Radamisto HWV 12a (1720) : Ombra cara
Orlando HWV 31 (1733) : Verdi allori
Parnasso in festa: Lunga serie d'alti eroi

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