Wild, Exciting Early Handel From Lezhneva & Antonini

Review by: Robert Levine

Lezhneva

Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 10

This CD begins with a bravura aria from Handel’s La Resurrezione that is lit into with such mania that you could imagine flames bursting from the speakers. Both instrumentalists and soprano seem to be competing for the number of notes they can hurl at us, and as a result I defy anyone to actually understand the first few words sung by the glorious-toned Julia Lezhneva–the whole first section comes across as a blur. You get used to such behavior, though it rears its funny head again in “Un pensiero nemico di pace” and in “Come nembo che fugge col vento”, both from Il Trionfo de Tempo e del Disinganno. And in the Resurrezione aria and the second of the mentioned Trionfo arias, violinist Dmitry Sinkovsky, himself a grand virtuoso, adds to the sense of panic.

But in truth, the fast arias are exciting stuff, and Lezhneva even manages to articulate some of the anger in the Trionfo. The aria from Rodrigo, a statement of constancy, is beautifully sung, with fine diction and immaculate tone, with long breaths and a lilting rhythm, and is aided by Sinkovsky’s finely etched violin. Lezhneva manages to sound like a boy treble in one or two of the religious arias (Salve Regina), which is lovely, but she also is womanly (if a decidedly “young” womanly) as Agrippina.

As suggested, Giovanni Antonini leads Il Giardino Armonico with barely controlled hysteria, and at times seems to be attempting to upstage his soprano; the obbligato flute in the aria from Apollo e Dafne, which is played by Antonini himself, seems a bit too forward. But if you love early Handel, much of which will remind you of later Handel (because the composer himself went back and “borrowed”), this CD will delight you.



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Recording Details:

Album Title: Julia Lezhneva--Handel
  • HANDEL, G.F.:
    Agrippina (Sinfonia; Pensieri, voi mi tormentate); Apollo e Dafne HWV122 (Felicissima quest’alma); Dixit Dominus HWV232 (Tecum principium); La Resurrezione HWV47 (Disserratevi, o porte d’Averno); Rodrigo (Per dar pregio all’amor mio); Salve regina HWV241; Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno HWV46a (Come nembo che fugge col vento; Lascia la spina; Pure del cielo intelligenze eterne…Tu del ciel ministro eletto; Un pensiero nemico di pace)
  • Julia Lezhneva (soprano); Dmitry Sinkovsky (violin)
  • Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini


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