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Monica Bacelli as Tamerlano is cruel, whimsical, political and irresistible. Asteria, Bajazet's abused daughter (Elisabeth Norberg-Schulz) has awesome resources of steel-cold determination worthy even of a Turandot [listen -- CD1 track 17, 0:00-1:23]. The timbre of Graham Pushee's alto Andronico, Asteria's compromised lover, is very close indeed, however, to Bacelli's contralto, and sometimes you wish for a slightly greater degree of differentiation [listen -- CD3 track 24, 0:08-0:27]. Perhaps the overlapping was entailed in rushed revisions (of voices and tessituras) that Handel himself made before the first performances to take advantage of two singers whose reputations he knew but not, at first hand, their voices. In the theatre, this would be no problem because costume, stature, blocking etc would more than compensate for a similarity of voices, but on a recording it presents a little difficulty, no matter how accomplished or intrinsically beautiful the voices.

Handel enthusiasts will regard these discs as indispensable. Now that this erstwhile 'specialist' baroque opera is well and truly out of the early music ghetto, anyone with an ear for great music will probably follow suit.

Copyright © 29 September 2002 Peter Dale, Danbury, Essex, UK


Handel: Tamerlano

AV 0001 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE (3 CDs) 60'30"/57'35"/63'15" - TT 181'20" 2002 The English Concert

Monica Bacelli, contralto (Tamerlano), Tom Randle, tenor (Bajazet), Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz, soprano (Asteria), Graham Pushee, alto (Andronico), Anna Bonitatibus, mezzo-soprano (Irene), Antonio Abete, bass (Leone), The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock, conductor

George Frideric Handel: Tamerlano, HWV 18 (1724), an opera in three acts. Libretto by Nicola Haym, based on the libretto by Agostino Piovene (Venice, 1711), itself based on 'Tamerlan ou la mort de Bajazet' by Jacques Pradon, 1675




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