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Handel: Duets / Bicket , Connolly, Joshua, English Concert

Handel / Connolly / Joshua / Ecc / Bicket
Release Date: 03/30/2010 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 767  
Composer:  George Frideric HandelWolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Rosemary JoshuaSarah Connolly
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

CDs of opera and oratorio arias and duets by Handel are hardly a rare event. Last year’s 250th anniversary of the composer’s death lead to something of a glut in the market. In this respect, Chandos - under its early music Chaconne label - has made a wise choice in waiting until this year to release this recording of dramatic duets. It enables us to sit back and assess it on its own terms rather than as yet another anniversary act of homage.

And this disc really is worth considering closely. Superbly recorded, it sounds alive, clear and acoustically rich. It also features a well balanced programme, mixing operatic with oratorio duets that cover the full range of emotional experiences endured by Handel’s characters – from
Read more painful separation to joyous reunion; and from loving harmony to malign scheming.

The playing from the English Concert under Harry Bicket is excellent. Their performance is a fully ‘authentic’ affair on original instruments, with the usual sections of the baroque orchestra augmented by organ, archlute and baroque guitar. The recording balance brings them more to the fore than is often the case in Handel recordings, and turns them from stage supporters, to fully fledged actors in each of the short scenarios. Take for example the painterly introduction to ‘To thee, thou glorious son of worth’ from Theodora (track 6), or the plaintive flutes that accompany ‘Vivo in te’ from Tamerlano (track 9).

And what of the two soloists – soprano Rosemary Joshua and mezzo Sarah Connolly? Both are experienced Handelians in the recording studio and, more importantly, on stage, and therefore bring an insight, vigour and commitment to each of their roles. Their voices are also sufficiently varied to enable the listener to differentiate between them: Joshua’s is bright and lithe; Connolly’s warm and supple. Occasionally their blend is a little indistinct – in ‘Notte cara!’ from Ottone, for example (track 5) – and Connolly’s characterisation of roles originally sung by male castrati could do with a little beefing up. But for sheer vocal beauty, there is very little to fault.

John-Pierre Joyce, MusicWeb International

"This is what happens when you give every bar of Handel’s music its own raison d’être and breathe every wisp of nuance into his flavourful duets and those prolonged “da capo” arias. This concert, delivered by the English Concert under Harry Bicket, offered two artists of great refinement: Connolly and the elegant soprano Rosemary Joshua. Actually, there was a third great artist here, too: Bicket led his ensemble with both dramatic concision and pungent expression."

-- The Times (London)
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Works on This Recording

1. Belshazzar, HWV 61: Great Victor by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Rosemary Joshua (Soprano), Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: England 
2. Agrippina, HWV 6: No, no chi’io non sprezzo by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1709; England 
3. Rodelinda, HWV 19: Io t'abbraccio by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; London, England 
4. Sosarme, HWV 30: Per le porte by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1732; London, England 
5. Ottone, HWV 15: Notte cara by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: England 
6. Tamerlano, HWV 18: Vivo in te by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1724; London, England 
7. Ariodante, HWV 33: Bramo haver mille vite by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1734-1735; London, England 
8. Radamisto, HWV 12: Se teco vive il cor by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1712/1720; London, England 
9. Theodora, HWV 68: To thee, thou glorious son of worth by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749-1750; London, England 
10. Theodora, HWV 68: Streams of pleasure ever flowing by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749-1750; London, England 
11. Solomon, HWV 67: Welcome as the dawn of day by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1749; London, England 
12. Così fan tutte, K 588: Soave sia il vento by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano)
Conductor:  Harry Bicket
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Classical 
Written: 1790; Vienna, Austria 

Sound Samples

Radamisto, HWV 12: Act III: Se teco vive il cor
Rodelinda, HWV 19: Act II: Io t'abbraccio
Solomon, HWV 67: Part I: Welcome as the dawn of day
Theodora, HWV 68: Act III: Streams of pleasure ever flowing
Ottone, re di Germania, HWV 15: Act III: Duet: Note cara!
Theodora, HWV 68: Act II: To thee, thou glorious son of worth
Ariodante, HWV 33: Act III: Bramo haver mille vite
Belshazzar, HWV 61: Act III: Great victor, at your feet I bow
Tamerlano, HWV 18: Act III: Vivo in te mio caro bene
Sosarme, re di Media, HWV 30: Act II: Per Le Porte del Tormento
Agrippina, HWV 6: Act III: No, no, ch'io non apprezzo
Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Act III: Caro! Bella!

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