Wednesday, 15 June 2016
Handel - Il Caro Sassone - Crowe/English Concert/Bicket
This is a fabulous disc of youthful works by Handel, composed during his stay in Italy between 1706 and 1710. It was an incredibly productive period and a lovely sample of what he wrote is presented here - a setting of Salve Regina, concert arias, extracts from cantatas and operas and some instrumental sonatas. It's a terrific programme, well-balanced, interesting and full of Handel's great tunes and brilliant orchestration.
The performances are excellent. Lucy Crowe has a delightful voice which has matured slightly, giving it a lovely depth of tone. Her technique is superb - the aria Disserratevi, o porte d'Averno from La Resurrezione, for example, shows her singing at times with quiet depth and at others with staggering virtuosity as she breezes through some of Handel's most demanding, word-murdering passages, while the English Concert provide a thrilling orchestral accompaniment - including some fabulous, sparkling trumpet work from Neil Brough and Michael Harrison. It's as good as this all the way through the disc, and I would say it's one of the most enjoyable discs of Handel vocal works that I own - and it's up against some very stiff competition.
The recorded sound is excellent and beautifully balanced, the notes are very good and it is attractively presented. This is an excellent disc all round and very warmly recommended.