Max Emanuel Cencic / Diego Fasolis / I Barocchisti

Handel: Opera Arias

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AllMusic Review by

Max Emanuel Cencic accurately describes himself as a mezzo-soprano rather than a counter tenor. His tone, while pure, is colorfully nuanced, nothing like the blanched purity that was once (but is thankfully no longer) stereotypical of counter tenors. A lifetime of singing the most advanced repertoire has given him a confident technique, exceptionally sure intonation, astonishing vocal power, and an effortless-sounding flexibility; at the age of six he sang the Queen of the Night's "Der Hölle Rache on Zagreb" television, and he went on to become a soloist with the Vienna Boys' Choir. On this album he tackles some of Handel's most virtuosic and demanding mezzo arias, most of them relatively unfamiliar. The selection highlights his expressive and technical versatility. He brings intensely articulated longing and grief to "Pena tiranna," from Amadigi di Gaula, one of the better-known arias. The ravishing legato and limpid phrasing of "Alma mia," from Floridante, express a transcendent serenity and joy. There are plenty of arias that give Cencic an opportunity to dazzle with his remarkable coloratura, sometimes ecstatic (as in "Lunga serie d'altri eroi," a scene with chorus from Parnasso in Festa), but usually furious; especially impressive are the ferocious "Se bramate d'amar chi vi sdegna" from Serse and "Sorge nell'alma mia" from Imeneo. Diego Fasolis leads I Barocchisti and Coro della Radiotelevisione svizzera in vibrant, elegant, idiomatic accompaniments. Virgin's sound is warmly ambient, with a good balance.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Imeneo, HWV 41
1 5:03
Floridante, HWV 14
2 5:17
Arianna in Creta, HWV 32
3 5:02
Tamerlano, HWV 18
4 5:50
Serse, HWV 40
5 5:15
Amadigi di Gaula, HWV 11
6 5:17
Arianna in Creta, HWV 32
7 5:01
Parnasso in festa, HWV 73
8 5:37
Agrippina, HWV 6
9 4:12
Radamisto, HWV 12a
10 8:00
Orlando, HWV 31
11 5:56
Parnasso in festa, HWV 73
12 3:34
13
blue highlight denotes track pick