Alfred Deller / Anthony Lewis

Händel: Sosarme - 1954 Recording

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This well-aged Sosarme has been around since 1954, when it was first released on Decca and Oiseau-Lyre on LP. It first resurfaced on CD on the Opera d'Oro label, and now has found new life on Urania -- a remarkable lifespan for a recording that is now several generations removed from the mainstream of Baroque performance practice. But that isn't entirely surprising since there is still (as of 2005) only one other competing recording (Newport Classics, starring Drew Minter, John Aler, and Julianne Baird), and it's a valuable document of Alfred Deller's groundbreaking work. Deller's fans will value this release, as will anyone curious to hear just how far performers have come since 1954 in their treatment of Handel's music. But casual listeners may struggle to enjoy it. The singing is of uneven quality, the approach to recitative is square, and the sound quality is poor even by standards of the 1950s. Nancy Evans' Erenice is warbly and harsh; tenor John Kentish struggles with the role of Argone; and Ian Wallace, though he tries admirably, can't quite cope with the wide range and difficulty of the bass villain Altomaro, which was written for the ludicrously gifted Handelian bass Antonio Montagnana. However, Deller delivers a stylistically forward-looking and well focused, if not exactly heroic, reading of Sosarme, and Margaret Ritchie is ravishing as Elmira; her slow and soulful "Rendi 'l serena al ciglio" from Act I is one of the highlights of the recording. Anthony Lewis' conducting is admirably clean and emotive, and the most successful moments on the recording are due in large part to his well-chosen tempos. The included libretto is in Italian only, and the program notes are informative but very brief. Unless you're curious about historical performance practices, or a hardcore Alfred Deller fan, it would be best to try and find the Newport Classics version, which is superior in almost every way.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30
1 05:17 Amazon
2 05:44 Amazon
3 05:01 Amazon
4 00:57 Amazon
5 01:43 Amazon
6 01:45 Amazon
7 04:52 Amazon
8 01:26 Amazon
9 02:53 Amazon
10 01:30 Amazon
11 05:44 Amazon
12 03:56 Amazon
13 06:41 Amazon
14 03:38 Amazon
15 02:32 Amazon
16 01:04 Amazon
17 01:47 Amazon
18 02:50 Amazon
19 00:38 Amazon
20 07:49 Amazon
21 00:21 Amazon
22 05:25 Amazon
23 01:25 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30
1 09:47 Amazon
2 01:36 Amazon
3 03:03 Amazon
4 03:07 Amazon
5 02:56 Amazon
6 00:59 Amazon
7 06:06 Amazon
8 01:03 Amazon
9 02:41 Amazon
10 03:02 Amazon
11 03:00 Amazon
12 01:07 Amazon
13 04:27 Amazon
14 01:07 Amazon
15 01:38 Amazon
16 00:32 Amazon
17 06:35 Amazon
18 00:43 Amazon
19 03:16 Amazon
20 04:09 Amazon
21 05:36 Amazon
22 04:03 Amazon
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