Bryn Terfel / Charles Mackerras

Handel: Arias

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AllMusic Review by

Bryn Terfel's 1997 recital includes arias and recitatives from Handel's oratorios, operas, and sacred music that span much of the composer's mature career, from Acis and Galatea to Judas Maccabeus. Terfel's full and resonant voice is especially welcome in this repertoire, which is frequently assigned to a lighter voice; the deep notes that anchor "Behold a ghostly band," from Alexander's Feast, and "O ruddier than the cherry," from Acis and Galatea, are satisfyingly secure and solid. Terfel also has the lightness and agility to nimbly negotiate the coloratura that the former requires. The same is true in the selections from Messiah, where his ringing bass-baritone is especially stirring and his flexibility really shines, particularly in "But who may abide the day of his coming." The album also includes several transposed arias, including "Where'er you walk," from Semele, and solos from Giulio Cesare, Berenice and Alcina, originally written in the alto range for castrato. Generally, it would be hard to tell that these were not conceived for his voice type, except that the Semele aria is so familiar as a tenor solo. Terfel sings with absolutely precise intonation, which makes his performance especially enjoyable, and he brings lively characterizations to the varied repertoire with his deft vocal colorings. Charles Mackerras, leading the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, provides a supple and understated accompaniment. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is clean and well balanced.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Judas Maccabaeus, oratorio, HWV 63
1
1:05
2
3:25
Te Deum (Dettingen) for soloists, chorus & orchestra in D major, HWV 283
3
2:17
Samson, oratorio, HWV 57
4
5:51
Berenice, Regina d'Egitto, opera, HWV 38
5
4:17
Alcina, opera, HWV 34
6
3:51
Orlando, opera, HWV 31
7
1:14
8
4:39
Acis and Galatea, oratorio, HWV 49
9
1:27
10
3:01
Semele, oratorio, HWV 58
11
4:37
Alexander's Feast, ode for St. Cecilia's Day, HWV 75
12
7:19
Giulio Cesare in Egitto, opera, HWV 17
13
6:16
Serse (Xerxes), opera, HWV 40
14
0:46
15
3:03
Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
16
1:30
17
4:20
18
4:54
19
0:36
20
8:51
blue highlight denotes track pick