Sarah Connolly / Rosemary Joshua / Harry Bicket / The English Concert

Handel: Duets

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Solo recitals of arias from Handel operas and oratorios are common, so it's a pleasure to hear an album devoted to his duets, particularly when they're performed as well as they are here by soprano Rosemary Joshua and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly. Both have had diverse careers, but are known especially for their Baroque roles. Their voices are especially well-matched in weight, and their blend is beautifully warm, but they are each distinctive enough that they retain a strong vocal identity even when singing in close harmony. They are absolutely secure technically, and handle even the most florid passages with easy assurance. The variety of the duets gives Joshua and Connolly ample opportunity for putting their gifts for dramatic characterization on display. In the joyful duets of lovers, such as "Streams of pleasure ever flowing" from Theodora, their voices have a relaxed radiance, that can turn blissfully ecstatic, as in "Caro! Bella!" from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, but for pure, giddy happiness, it's hard to beat their performance of "Per le porte del tormento" from Sosarme. Several duets, including "To thee, thou glorious son of worth" from Theodora, "Vivo in te" from Tamerlano, and "Io t'abbraccio" from Rodelinda, eloquently express melancholy yearning, aching grief, or simple sadness. Joshua and Connolly receive superb support from Harry Beckett, who leads the English Consort in exquisitely nuanced performances. Chandos' sound is clean, clear, and warmly ambient, and the balance is excellent.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Radamisto, HWV 12a
1 3:15
Rodelinda, regina de' Longobardi, HWV 19
2 6:53
Solomon, HWV 67
3 3:10
Theodora, HWV 68
4 6:48
Ottone, re di Germania, HWV 15
5 4:36
Theodora, HWV 68
6 4:55
Ariodante, HWV 33
7 4:51
Belshazzar, HWV 61
8 4:58
Tamerlano, HWV 18
9 7:00
Sosarme, re di Media, HWV 30
10 7:33
Agrippina, HWV 6
11 3:53
Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17
12 4:50
blue highlight denotes track pick