Iestyn Davies / The King's Consort / Carolyn Sampson / Robert King

Your Tuneful Voice: Handel Oratorio Arias

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British countertenor Iestyn Davies stands out from his contemporaries with his unusually smooth, liquid voice. That kind of countertenor voice usually flourishes in quieter arias but faces a tough slog in more athletic Handel arias, which for the most part were written not for a countertenor but for a castrato. Listeners might indeed wish for a more flamboyant presentation of arias like this from Davies, but really he has picked arias that fit his voice startlingly well. The showstoppers emerge as precise displays of chamber virtuosity, and in the slower, serious but sensuous pieces like Who calls my parting soul from death? (track 16), from Esther, Davies is really transcendent. In that piece and one other he's joined by soprano Carolyn Sampson, whose voice has a similar creamy quality, inducing a kind of sensory overload. The sheer vocal pleasure is broken up by the inclusion of a pair of overtures from the King's Consort under Robert King, who deserve notice for staying in balance with Davies in quite a variety of unfamiliar material, and another attraction of the album is the informative set of booklet notes by Donald Burrows, exploring the variety of scenes and voice types for which Handel's oratorios were written, and in so doing throwing light on why this rather unorthodox performance works so wonderfully well.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Belshazzar
1 5:01
The Triumph of Time and Truth
2 7:05
Esther
3 4:45
Alexander Balus
4 2:35
Jephtha
5 5:08
6 1:37
Birthday Ode for Queen Anne
7 3:35
Solomon
8 3:32
Semele
9 5:12
The Choice of Hercules
10 3:49
Jephtha
11 3:36
Samson
12 3:17
13 1:37
14 2:49
Israel in Egypt
15 3:15
Esther
16 3:13
The Triumph of Time and Truth
17 4:00
Esther
18 3:06
blue highlight denotes track pick