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Cleopatra / Isabel Bayrakdarian, Jeanne Lamon, Tafelmusik


Release Date: 10/19/2004 
Label:  Cbc Sm 5000 Series Catalog #: 5233   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Carl Heinrich GraunJohann Adolf HasseGeorge Frideric HandelJohann Mattheson
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


If you're a vocal music/opera fan and don't know Isabel Bayrakdarian by now, well, where have you been? Like another of today's outstanding young sopranos, Dorothea Röschmann, Bayrakdarian has been carefully building her career with intelligent artistic choices that put her voice first while gaining significant exposure on the world's stages along with invaluable performing experience. This demanding, mostly coloratura program pushes just to the edge of her already-formidable technique, and even though there are some aspects of execution that could be smoother, a little less frantic-sounding, or more tonally refined (this last applies only to a handful of extreme
Read more upper-register notes that are part of difficult leaping passages), you easily can hear that this is the work of a phenomenally gifted singer and an extraordinary artist who possesses not only a voice of rare power and agility but who also has the kind of interpretive instincts that separate the truly elite from the merely great.

From the very first aria, from Carl Heinrich Graun's 1742 Cleopatra e Cesare--a tour de force if ever there were one!--Bayrakdarian leaves no doubt about her command of the technical details of the most wildly spinning coloratura runs and swirling ornamentation, all the while making the most glorious-toned, pitch-accurate sounds and convincing us that this not-to-be-messed-with Cleopatra is serious when she tells her suitor Arsace why she's dumping him for Caesar. And speaking of coloratura, Bayrakdarian's mastery of ornamentation is remarkable--and many of these arias are so packed with it that it's hard to imagine how she manages to fit everything in without losing time or the driving impetus of the line. But she does, and the intensity and focus of her characterizations is another marvel--just listen to the compelling urgency of her "Morte col fiero aspetto" ("the ferocious face of death"), the Act 1 aria from Hasse's 1725 serenata Marc'Antonio e Cleopatra. Wow! This is singing that gives us no choice but to pay attention!

The Handel selections are just gorgeous--both the music and Bayrakdarian's renditions. Here the music is more melodically lyrical and sophisticatedly dramatic, and the soprano imbues the two arias--"V'adoro, pupille" and "Piangerò, la sorte mia" from Giulio Cesare in Egitto--with the fully realized emotion and meaningful nuance of one who knows the role and character well (she's performed this on stage, and it shows). Johann Mattheson's 1704 opera Cleopatra (the disc's producers claim these selections to be world-premiere recordings) features some very appealing music whose dramatic aspects and musical values make a tantalizing case for hearing more (if not all) of the work. The music sounds more like a German cantata than Italian-style opera, but the aria "Gute Nacht!" (among the more sweetly seductive partings in the baroque repertoire!) and the final "Wer in seinem Busen nährt Basilisk" (where Cleopatra kills herself with a snake's poisonous bite) are highlights of the program, especially the latter, which features some really scary string tremolos guaranteed to frighten every serpentophobe.

Unfortunately, the orchestral sound--and by the way, this orchestra is really terrific in all respects--is dulled by an unusually stifling acoustic environment. Whether the fault of the hall (Toronto's George Weston Recital Hall) or engineering decisions, it deprives the singer and instruments of their full measure of vibrancy and color. No, this isn't a serious problem, but it adds just a touch of disappointment to a rave-worthy recording. However, the real focus here is Bayrakdarian, who doesn't disappoint for a second--and if you've been following her career (and you should be) you hear yet another series of shining moments in the progress of a wonderful singer on her way to becoming a major star.

-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com

Also Available - Isabel Bayrakdarian's Azulão - Songs of Spain, Brazil and Argentina
"...she is a world-class singer, a performer with prodigious communicative instincts and superlative technical ability. In these wonderfully colorful and evocative songs, many of which are rarely heard on concert stages or on recordings, she displays a commanding presence, using her considerable dramatic skills to enliven each song with appropriately varied personalities and moods, from playful to passionate to wistful to sultry to melancholy--whatever is required to convey sense and spirit of music and text." -- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com

Also Available - Isabel Bayrakdarian's Joyous Light
Religious songs and hymns from the Armenian Church liturgy.
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Works on This Recording

1. Cleopatra e Cesare: Tra le procelle assorto by Carl Heinrich Graun
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1742; Berlin, Germany 
2. Cleopatra e Cesare: Se avvien che si posi by Carl Heinrich Graun
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
3. Cleopatra e Cesare: Sento mio dolce amore by Carl Heinrich Graun
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
4. Antonio e Cleopatra: Morte col fiero aspetto by Johann Adolf Hasse
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1725; Italy 
5. Antonio e Cleopatra: Quel candido armellino by Johann Adolf Hasse
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1725; Italy 
6. Antonio e Cleopatra: Un sol tuo sospiro by Johann Adolf Hasse
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1725; Italy 
7. Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: V'adoro pupille by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
8. Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: E pur cosi in un giorno by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
9. Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Piangerò la sorte mia by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
10. Cleopatra: Was ist der Liebe Brauch by Johann Mattheson
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1704; Germany 
11. Cleopatra: Gute Nacht by Johann Mattheson
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1704; Germany 
12. Cleopatra: The Death of Cleopatra by Johann Mattheson
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeanne Lamon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tafelmusik
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1704; Germany 

Featured Sound Samples

Cleopatra e Cesare (Graun): "Tra le procelle assorto"

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