Lucy Crowe / Harry Bicket / The English Concert

Il Caro Sassone: Handel in Italy

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"Il caro sassone," the dear Saxon, was George Frederick Handel, during the first part of his career in Italy (1706-1710). He wrote music for various patrons there, with the result that his vocal compositions are a mixed bag: some extreme creations of the very ambitious 20-something Handel was, some of them soberer as a result of the purposes for which they were tailored. It's a fairly obscure corner of the repertory for a young soprano looking to make a name, but you can see why the British singer Lucy Crowe chose it: the music allowed her to display the considerable range of which her voice is capable. She has a compelling yet rather curious voice that will probably stir divergent reactions. In big martial arias she can deliver plenty of power, but in smaller pieces she often adopts a nearly vibrato-free timbre (vibrato creeps in unpredictably as a kind of ornament) thoroughly marked by the early music movement. When she extends that sound into her upper register, where she is perfectly capable of creating a creamier tone, the results will be either gutsy or highly questionable according to your perspective. Not so much under debate is the accuracy and sensitivity of the veteran historical-instrument group the English Concert, whose leader, Harry Bicket, is evolving into a fine conductor of Baroque opera. The group accompanies Crowe and performs alone with liveliness and precision in a few instrumental sonatas. Sampling this album may tell you whether you fall into the circle of Crowe's fans, but there's no doubt about it: she deserves to be heard.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Armida abbandonata, HWV 105
1 1:02
2 5:28
3 0:23
4 0:50
5 2:53
6 0:57
7 4:50
Delirio Amoroso, HWV 99
8 4:59
Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, HWV 46a
9 5:20
Salve Regina, HWV 241
10 3:10
11 3:21
12 3:50
13 1:46
La Resurrezione, HWV 47
14 5:25
Tu fedel? tu costante?, HWV 171
15 2:29
Alpestre monte, HWV 81
16 0:54
17 5:28
18 0:55
19 4:38
Sonata a 5, HWV 288
20 3:35
Clori, Tirsi e Fileno, HWV 96
21 0:57
22 8:25
Aminta e Fillide, HWV 83
23 2:42
blue highlight denotes track pick