WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Handel: Finest Arias For Bass / Christopher Purves, Jonathan Cohen, Arcangelo

Handel / Purves / Cohen
Release Date: 12/11/2012 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67842  
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  
On sale! $21.98
CD:  $19.99
Low Stock



Notes and Editorial Reviews



HANDEL Bass arias from: Rinaldo, Acis and Galatea, Acis, Galatea and Polifemo, L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, La Resurrezione, Deborah, Belshazzar, Orlando, Theodora, Muzio Scerola, Agrippina, Roccardo Primo, Apollo e Dafne, Alexander’s Feast, Semele Christopher Purvis (bar); Jonathan Cohen, cond; Arcangelo HYPERION 67842 (70:54 Text and Translation)


It’s a curious idea for an album. Baritone Christopher Purvis is a skillful singer, Read more with an unmemorable voice but well-schooled technique, strong enunciation, and less than moderate agility. Despite his experience on stage, I wouldn’t call him a dramatically imaginative performer, but a smooth, likeable, and consistent one who focuses on adapting dynamics and phrasing to score his restrained but always musicianly points. Yet Handel’s bass arias often require singers who can easily manage figurations, and create distinct characters. The matchup doesn’t work out as badly as I feared it might, though by that same token it’s less than I could have hoped.


The problems with agility are apparent right away, in a moderately paced “Siblar gli angui d’Aletto” from Rinaldo . Some of the figurations are handled capably, if not comfortably, while the rest are simply smeared. This sets the stage as well for such arias as “O ruddier than the cherry,” from Acis and Galatea , and the outer sections of “Revenge, Timotheus cries,” from Alexander’s Feast.


The former of the two also points to another issue I mentioned above, that of Purvis’s reticence in realizing character. True, at around 92 bpm, this “O ruddier than the cherry” is rather faster than Ebenezer Prout’s ancient suggestion of 84 bpm—though it is no faster than most other modern versions I’ve heard. (Certainly that sadly neglected Belgian baritone Armand Crabbé was helped in making his entirely memorable 1928 recording by an even slower speed than Prout recommended.) Purvis varies the volume of a few phrases, but does nothing to point the text, much less to find the humor in the piece. For all that Bryn Terfel is faster still, he gets the lightness if not the lip-smacking sensuality of the brute Polyphemus, and has no problem with the role’s required agility.


But let’s turn next to “Revenge, Timotheus cries.” True, the figurations are smudged throughout, but the enunciation elsewhere is as clean and clear as one could wish. And the slower central section, “Behold a ghastly hand,” is sung in long phrases, with plenty of firm tone in the lower notes, a bit of metal when required, and even a brief but effective trill. A bit of clumsy phrasing on “dolce diletto” aside, “Vieni o cara” from Agrippina demonstrates similar qualities: little characterization, but a first-rate musical intelligence. As much too can be said about “To pow’r immortal” from Belshazzar , and “Tears, such as tender fathers shed” from Deborah . As long as the tempo is on the slow side, and there’s no figurations in sight, Purvis delivers oratorio-like readings of substantial quality. It helps that the small but attractive forces of Arcangelo are employed for accompaniment, and that Jonathan Cohen conducts sensitively.


In short, worth getting if you’re a fan of Purvis. Personally, I prefer Furio Zanasi and Vito Priante in this music, both possessing more theatrical flair, and ease in managing fast passagework. But there are joys to be found in this release.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Sosarme, HWV 30: Fra l'ombre e gli orrori by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1732; London, England 
2.
Orlando, HWV 31: Sorge infausta una procella by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733; London, England 
3.
Orlando, HWV 31: Impari ognun da Orlando by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
4.
Muzio Scevola, HWV 13: Volate più dei venti by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
5.
Agrippina, HWV 6: Vieni, o cara by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1709; Venice, Italy 
6.
Theodora, HWV 68: Racks, gibbets, sword and fire by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749-1750; London, England 
7.
Semele, HWV 58: Leave me, loathsome light by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
8.
Deborah, HWV 51: Tears, such as tender fathers shed by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733; London, England 
9.
Belshazzar, HWV 61: To pow'r immortal by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1745; London, England 
10.
Alexander's Feast, HWV 75: Revenge, Timotheus cries by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1736; London, England 
11.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: O ruddier than the cherry by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718 
12.
Rinaldo, HWV 7: Sibillar gli angui d'Aletto by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
13.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: I rage, I melt, I burn! - by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718 
14.
L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, HWV 55: If I give thee honour...Mirth, admit me of thy crew by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
15.
La resurrezione, HWV 47: Qual'insolita luce by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
16.
La resurrezione, HWV 47: Caddi, è ver by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
17.
Riccardo Primo, HWV 23: Nel mondo e nell'abisso by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
18.
La terra è liberata, HWV 122 "Apollo e Dafne": Mia piante correte by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
19.
La terra è liberata, HWV 122 "Apollo e Dafne": Cara pianta by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Purves (Bass)
Conductor:  Jonathan Cohen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arcangelo
Period: Baroque 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In