Natalia Kawalek / Jakob Józef Orlinski

Enemies in Love: Handel

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This recording of Handel arias announces exciting new talents on several fronts. First is that of countertenor Jakub Józef Orlinski, who has studied at both the Juilliard School (graduating in 2017) and the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. He's colorful, expressive, and endowed with plenty of power. More broadly there is the growth of the early music scene in Poland, which has existed for some time but has produced few state-of-the-art releases like this one, with fine, edgy backing from the group Il Giardino d'Amore, founded in 2012 in Krakow and thoroughly Polish despite its name. Check out the spectacular talent of harpsichordist Ewa Mrowca in Vo far guerra in the lengthy keyboard interludes in Rinaldo. The presence of that piece indicates the strength of the program as a whole, which is varied in tone and structure, with several duets that show real sympathy between the principals, rather than offering a string of inevitable da capo arias. Last but not least there is the spectacular Natalia Kawalek, who's classed as a mezzo-soprano but runs the whole gamut from a low growl (sample Amor è qual vento from Orlando) to light agility at the top, in many pieces that would generally be considered soprano arias. Complaints? Poorly edited translations in the booklet. End of list.

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