Barbara Hendricks' fascinating recital brings together some of the best-known songs and arias by the two great composers of vocal music in England in the Baroque era: Purcell and Handel. Hendricks' voice has lost some of its bloom and flexibility and sometimes in the Purcell the extremes of her range lack solidity, but she turns in a graceful, musically sensitive, and nuanced performance of this repertoire, which she obviously understands deeply and loves. In general, the Handel falls more comfortably for her voice, and highlights of the album include the three arias from Semele, particularly "Where'er you walk." She also delivers the three virtuosic coloratura showcases from Giulio Cesare with absolute security and panache; "Da tempeste il legno infranto" is especially dazzling. The two excerpts from Dido and Aeneas are also profoundly impassioned and poignant; "When I am laid in earth" is a model of restrained grief, vocal control, and expressive, tasteful ornamentation. Even though this recital comes late in her career, it captures much of the magic and expressiveness of Hendricks' legendary voice. The conductorless Drottningholms Barockensemble accompanies her with clean, bright tone and astonishing responsiveness. The ensemble is in the spotlight for a sparkling performance of Handel's Terpsichore ballet suite. Arte Verum's sound is warm and clear, with excellent balance.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Terpsichore, ballet, HWV 8b|
|Semele, oratorio, HWV 58|
|Atalanta, opera, HWV 35|
|Giulio Cesare in Egitto, opera, HWV 17|