Review by: David Vernier
Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 9
In this nicely varied Handel program of orchestral and solo vocal works—happily including pieces we normally don’t find on similar collections—the nationally eclectic performers of the European Union Baroque Orchestra (with musicians from The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, the UK, Bulgaria, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Poland, France, and Ireland) deliver performances equal to the finest on disc. You may never have heard the overture to Handel’s opera Admeto, but the original production in 1727 became (in)famous for the decidedly impolite manners of audience factions who passionately supported one (and loathed the other) of the two featured sopranos. Never mind: the music is typically lively, lovely, buoyant, catchy, captivating Handel.
The cantata that follows, a secular work from 1707, written when the composer was 22, is one of the program’s two main attractions, the other being the Water Music Suite in F major. Swedish soprano Maria Keohane, whom I recently praised for her exceptional performance in Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato for Carus (read review here), takes full control of her role yet makes a few rather unpleasant, shapeless, colorless sounds on several recurring held notes in the first aria. The Water Music Suite is as good as any on disc, and likewise the Op. 6 No. 2 concerto grosso. Two additional vocal works—a short cantata, Ah! Che troppo ineguali, and an aria “Tu del Ciel ministro eletto”—are very well done, and all the music is expertly and stylishly conducted from the harpsichord by Lars Ulrik Mortensen. The sound, from both live concerts and recording sessions in 2008-2011, is consistently fine. If you like Handel, this is a nice gap-filler.
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Recording Details:Album Title: PURE HANDEL
- HANDEL, G.F.:Overture from Admeto HWV 22; Cantata Ero e Leandro HWV 150; Water Music Suite No. 1 in F major HWV 348; Cantata Ah! Che troppo ineguali HWV 230; Concerto Grosso in F major Op. 6 No. 2 HWV 320; Aria "Tu del Ciel ministro eletto" from Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno HWV 46a