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Handel

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Andrew Farach-Colton
Renée Fleming is no newcomer to Handel, having starred in an acclaimed recording of Alcina, but it's still a treat to hear her creamy soprano lavished on a program of the composer's exquisite, tuneful arias. Those who swear by the pure, almost ascetic approach taken by Baroque specialists may be shocked by the richness of Fleming's voice. But Fleming doesn't sing this music the same way she sings Verdi or Massenet. In fact, there's a lightness and intimacy here that's disarming, as if the microphones captured Fleming singing to herself. This is true even in the fast, virtuosic selections, like "Scoglio d'immota fronte" from Scipione, where she keeps her ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Andrew Farach-Colton
Renée Fleming is no newcomer to Handel, having starred in an acclaimed recording of Alcina, but it's still a treat to hear her creamy soprano lavished on a program of the composer's exquisite, tuneful arias. Those who swear by the pure, almost ascetic approach taken by Baroque specialists may be shocked by the richness of Fleming's voice. But Fleming doesn't sing this music the same way she sings Verdi or Massenet. In fact, there's a lightness and intimacy here that's disarming, as if the microphones captured Fleming singing to herself. This is true even in the fast, virtuosic selections, like "Scoglio d'immota fronte" from Scipione, where she keeps her instrument in check. Runs and roulades are nimble and articulate, yet what impresses most is the sheer musicality of her interpretations, reminding us that Handel was one of the creators of the bel canto style. And, surely, the old master would have swooned to hear his music sung with such graceful expressiveness and tonal beauty. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, playing on period instruments, produce a warm, transparent sound, providing elegant and characterful support. In a word: gorgeous.
New York Times - Anthony Tommasini
Sheer sensual beauty of sound and wondrously long-arced phrasing distinguish [Fleming's] accounts of "O sleep why dost thou leave me?" from "Semele" and Cleopatra's bewitchingly lyrical aria of seduction from "Giulio Cesare." The quick-paced "Scoglio d'immota fronte" from "Scipione" is replete with fiery coloratura passagework, sudden vocal leaps and tricky ornaments, which she executes with aplomb. Under Mr. Bicket the orchestra gives crisp, lucid, undulant and stylistically informed performances.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/14/2004
  • Label: Decca
  • UPC: 028947554721
  • Catalog Number: 000316002
  • Sales rank: 28,427

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Renée Fleming Primary Artist, Soprano (Vocal)
Harry Bicket Conductor
Alison Bury Violin, Leader, Soloist
David Blackadder Trumpet
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Performing Ensemble
Anthony Robson Oboe
Philip Turbett Bassoon
Technical Credits
Renée Fleming Liner Notes
Mark Millington Art Direction
Gerald Moore Vocal Coach
Andrew Cornall Producer, Executive Producer
Andrew Eccles Cover Photo
Neil Hutchinson Engineer
Ellen T. Harris Liner Notes
Susannah Howe translation
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great instrument, but she's not using it well

    This c.d. is full of sloppy singing; the runs are messy and the tempi too fast and she simply cannot negotiate the coloratura passages easily at this stage of her singing. Listen to the "De tempeste" and you will hear the orchestra leaving her behind and muddled runs on her part. When she's singing well, no one can touch her, but as of late, she has not been singing well. If you want to hear these arias sung well, listen to Arleen Auger, Sills, Sutherland, Gruberova, even Swenson (although she is a passionless singer in the baroque/bel canto rep). Fleming can sing cleanly (as she does on her Mozart recording - just listen to her "Ach! ich liebte": very clean and sparkling). This c.d. is Renee Fleming singing great arias poorly. If she were not Renee Fleming (the name) and one heard this kind of singing on a recording or in the opera house, it would simply not be acceptable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Fleming Meets Handel...and the Stars and Planets Align

    This recording is an absolute stunner from premiere soprano Renée Fleming. Once again proving her vocal versatility, she tackles a selection of Handel's arias, both familiar and relatively unknown. Her taste, as it turns out, is unerring. Amazingly, her foray into the Baroque world is quite recent with her first and only professional exposure to Handel in the 1999 Paris Opera and Lyric Chicago productions of his "Alcina", but you certainly can't tell from the passionate, character-driven singing she exhibits here. As usual, her voice is full and rounded with a legato that is thrilling. The program is a nearly perfect showcase for her immense talent underlined by her amazing coloratura, easily one of the best today. Fleming opens sonorously with two arias from "Semele", "Oh sleep, why dost thou leave me?" and "Endless pleasure", equally beautiful as she begs the god Jupiter for immortality in the title role. In immediate contrast, Fleming shows her intense dramatic flair with "Scoglio d'immota fronte" from "Scipione" playing the fiery Spanish princess Berenice. In a gender reversal, she takes on the castrati role of "Serse" with the classic "Ombra mai fù", where she believably and touchingly deepens her voice to fit the male character. Although I prefer countertenor David Daniels' more animated version for sheer virtuosity, Fleming acquits herself well. Back on firmer ground, she credibly handles the two primary female roles in "Rinaldo": the hero's unsullied love, Almirena and the temptress, Armida. Her versatility is on full display in her two arias from this opera. Her plaintive "Lascia ch'io pianga" is quite comparable to Cecilia Bartoli's definitive version in romanticism and technique, and she burns in an extended dramatic fire on Armida's lament, "Dunque, I lacci s'un volto...Ah! crudel". Fleming's famous trilling is most impressive on her aria from "Rodelinda", "Ritorna, oh caro e dolce mio tesoro", which provides a sneak preview of her upcoming performance in a new production at the Metropolitan Opera. She closes with an unknown gem from "Alexander Balus", the yearning "Calm thou my soul...Convey me to some peaceful shore", where as Cleopatra, she turns to the goddess Isis after her father and lover are killed. Baroque music veteran Harry Bicket directs the wonderful Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with a sure hand. Fleming says it best in her liner notes: "Singing Handel is balm for the voice yet it expresses every possible nuance of the human condition." With this disc, she proves her point in spades. This has to be one of the year's best classical vocal recordings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Fleming Continues to Amaze

    Renee Fleming's latest effort is a must for those who appreciate the rich quality and musicality of her singing. Ms Fleming's gorgeous spinning of the long vocal lines are wondrous to behold. Her intelligent interpretations of the Handel arias are totally appropriate. She shows such an astounding vocal felxibility that even the most avid Baroque afficionado would find little to quibble about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews