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Huelgas Ensemble, Paul Van Nevel - Francesca Caccini La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alci...

Huelgas Ensemble, Paul Van Nevel - Francesca Caccini: La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina (2018)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 01:28:24 | 465 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi | Catalog: 88985338762


This live recording, from the Huelgas Ensemble directed by Paul van Nevel, is the second version of this early baroque opera to appear within a few months. The first was from an ensemble combining Allabastrina, La Pifarescha and an excellent team of vocal soloists directed by Elena Sartori. I am not in a position to make a direct comparison between the two versions at the moment, but one obvious difference is that the present recording from Van Nevel takes 88 minutes and is spread over two CDs, whereas Elena Sartori's team manages to squeeze the work onto one disc of 79 minutes. As far as I can tell, nothing significant has been cut from the score in order to achieve this latter feat. And to complicate matters further, both performances are outstanding, with excellent soloists and a fine instrumental team in both cases.

Further details about the composer Francesca Caccini, daughter of the Florentine Giulio Caccini, and about the present work are shown in a review of Sartori's version, so I will not repeat all that here. Suffice to say that this opera dating from 1625 is rich in opportunities for fine singing, both in solo recitative and arioso passages and in its extended ensemble numbers; there are, for example, three tenors, three mezzo-sopranos and numerous sopranos, as well as a fine range of baroque instruments including a recorder ensemble to accompany the love-rat hero Ruggiero. All the singers and players here are excellent, as they are also in Sartori's version, and Paul van Nevel's performance also offers especially fine-sounding choral work.

Booklet notes for the present version are excellent, with a synopsis included as well as libretto and translation. Recorded sound is first-class. From memory, I would say that the present performance under Van Nevel's direction is a touch more reflective, and less forthright, than Sartori's. Both are extremely stylish and highly enjoyable, but if I had to make a choice it would probably be Sartori by a whisker.

Huelgas Ensemble, Paul Van Nevel - Francesca Caccini La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alci...


Track List:

CD1
1 Sinfonia
Nettuno „Non perche congiurati ..." 9.16
2 Sinfonia
Melissa: „Cosi perfida Alcina ..." 5.16
3 Ruggiero: „Quanto per dolce ..." 6.38
4 Alcina: „Rimanti, o mio signore ..." 3.42
5 Ruggiero: „O quanto è dolce ..." 5.16
6 Sirena: „Chi nel fior di giovinezza ..." 4.16
7 Melissa: „Ecco l'ora ..." 5.11
8 Una delle piante incantate: „Ruggier de danni asprissimi ..." 7.33

Performers:
ALCINA - Michaela Riener - mezzo-soprano
RUGGIERO - Achim Schulz - tenor
MELISSA - Sabine Lutzenberger - mezzo-soprano
NUNZIA - Axelle Bernage - mezzo-soprano
SIRENA - Katelijne Van Laethem - soprano
NETTUNO - Matthew Vine - tenor
VISTOLA FIUME - Bernd Oliver Fröhlich - tenor
ASTOLFO - Matthew Vine - tenor
PASTORE - Bernd Oliver Fröhlich - tenor
DAMA DISINCANTATA - Katelijne Van Laethem - soprano
DAMIGELLE - Axelle Bernage, Helen Cassano, Katelijne Van Laethem, Rosemary Galton, Witte Maria Weber, Christel Boiron

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