Thursday, 25 February 2016

Handel - Bad Guys - Sabata

Rating: 5/5

An excellent recording

I am often sceptical about discs packaged with titles and covers designed to shock (albeit gently) a classical audience because it can be a way of marketing some inferior work, but not here.  This is a terrific disc of Handel arias for countertenor, sung by some of his villains from some well-known operas like Giulio Cesare and Ariodante through to some downright obscure stuff (well, it was obscure to me anyway) from Teseo and Amadigi di Gaula.  All of it is very good music indeed and the performances are excellent.

Xavier Sabata is a very fine countertenor with a rich tone and excellent technique, so that he makes even Handel's most demanding and word-murdering passages seem effortless and meaningful.  He brings genuine menace to the arias without ever resorting to melodrama and there is a real sense of the characters throughout.  Il Pomo d'Oro under Riccardo Minasi are excellent: technically flawless and extremely supple, so that they really enhance the drama as well as the music.

I am going to have to get over my prejudice against this sort of marketing.  First Celcilia Bartoli [[ASIN:B008LSSI4S Mission]] and now Xavier Sabata have recently confounded my expectations with absolutely superb discs, and I wholeheartedly recommend this as a truly excellent and very rewarding Handel recording.

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