Fabio Bonizzoni returns with his long-awaited new recording of Handel’s 'Aci, Galatea e Polifemo'. Who better to team up with Bonizzoni, performing the role of the luckless shepherd Aci, than scintillating soprano Roberta Invernizzi. Her captivating contributions to Glossa's Handel series with La Risonanza as well as her 'I Viaggi di Faustina' have drawn powerful critical plaudits, including more than one disc of the Month. Handel’s virtuosic and ebullient score, written for a 1708 wedding whilst he was in Naples (Carlo Vitali sets the scene in his enjoyably discursive booklet essay) also summons Argentinean bass, Lisandro Abadie, to demonstrate an awe-inspiring range that well becomes the monstrous nature of Polifemo. He is joined by French mezzo Blandine Staskiewicz, admirably suited to portray Galatea’s plaintive charms.
The chamber cantata flourished in Italy as a counterpart to public opera and oratorio, cultivated by aristocratic patrons for their personal enjoyment. Perhaps because of its essentially private origins, this pervasive Baroque form remains little known today. During his years in Italy (1706-1710), George Frideric Handel composed nearly 100 cantatas for a series of important patrons, but they have tended to be passed over in favor of his larger operas, oratorios, concertos and orchestral suites. The plan of La Risonanza to perform and record all of the cantatas with instrumental accompaniment (about one-third of the total) is therefore of signal importance for all music lovers, as it will bring this extraordinarily beautiful music once again to life (2006-2009).
This is the seventh and last 'volume' of La Risonanza's multi-year project of recording all of GF Handel's Italian cantatas, that is, the cantatas the twenty-something German prodigy wrote during his mere four years in Italy before his permanent relocation in England. Those four years were unquestionably formative; many of the arias Handel wrote for these cantatas would serve as his musical safe deposit box, to be plundered for re-use in his operas and oratorios for the rest of his career. La Risonanza, directed by harpsichordist Fabio Bonizzoni, has opened the ears of the world of Baroque music lovers to the flamboyant beauties of these early cantatas, with their florid virtuosity. If you've missed any of the previous six 'volumes', in their beautiful production on the Glossa label, you will want to catch up. That's the danger of hearing just one…Amazon.com
The recording speaks for itself, and it is only a matter of months before it shares the Olympus of the Goldberg with Leonhardt, Koopman, and Hantaï. This is so because, difficult as it may seem, Bonizzoni manages to offer a new perspective which avoids all straining after effects and extravagance to present a magical, intelligent, subtle, solid, coherent, and current version.
… that the Italian Handel is here to stay! In fact, the young Saxon who took musical Rome by storm while still in his 20s seems to be elbowing the bluff and beefy London Handel aside, in terms of topnotch performances and five-star recordings. Georg Friederich Handel (1685-1759) spent only the years 1706-1710 in Italy, but he produced enough glorious music just in those years to rank among the greatest composers of the baroque. He knew the value of that music, by the way, and recycled much of it in his later operas and oratorios.
Handel composed his chamber duets and trios – nine of them presented here – at various times in his career: some during his crucial period in Italy, when he imbibed the latest Italian style at its source (1707-9); some during his period in Hanover (1710-12); and some during his London years (in 1720, then again in 1740-5). Their demands are often virtuosic: here sopranos Roberta Invernizzi and Silvia Frigato share the honours with tenor Krystian Adam and baritone Thomas Bauer, and they are all up to the pieces’ demands, even if occasionally, when the semiquavers come thick and fast, the result feels a little dogged.
An extraordinary enterprise … As an experience of the sounds and styles of French organ culture this boxed set, it seems to me, is indispensable … the body of music is mostly, here, not created but simply made alive by the apt choice of instruments … it is a resource to which to return with delight.