HANDEL Ottone 4831814

"Ottone" captures the beauty and excitement of Handel's music and this rare recording breathes new life into one of the master's greatest works . . .

. . . [George Petrou gives] one of his strongest recorded performances . . . Owing both to his galvanizing conducting and Il Pomo d'Oro's fantastic playing, this is the rare Handel recording that is as gripping as any staged performance . . . [Pavel Kudinov delivers Emireno's arias] with singing of vigor and virtuosity . . . there is no better-qualified modern interpreter of Adelberto's music than countertenor Xavier Sabata . . . Hallenberg's performance as Gismonda in this "Ottone" is a milestone. From her first line of recitative, she commandeers the opera's drama . . . Lauren Snouffer besieges the listener's heart, and her success is indisputable . . . it is the combination of honesty and taste that makes her singing in this "Ottone" extraordinarily satisfying . . . [Cencić sings with] muscle and musicality. Alternately sensual, serene, and rabble-rousing, Cencic's timbre possesses both the lower-register resonance and the bold masculinity that Ottone's music requires . . . "Deh! non dir, che molle amante" is wondrous . . . The gleam that his voice projects as he joins Snouffer in "A'teneri affetti il cor s'abbandoni" evokes irrepressible delight . . . a passionately-sung, sumptuously-played examination . . . singing of the quality heard on this recording is always relevant.

. . . there are many lovely, poetic arias, well sung and elegantly played here by Il Pomo d'Oro under George Petrou . . . Max Emanuel Cencic is emotionally involving . . . and Lauren Snouffer sings with exceptional grace . . .

. . . [Cencic] leads a performance to relish . . . mezzo Ann Hallenberg all but upstages everyone around her . . . Soprano Lauren Snouffer makes a lovely job . . . George Petrou's orchestra offers eloquent and elegant support throughout . . . [the highlight of the extras] is Gismonda's "Vieni, o Figlio", mesmerisingly sung by Hallenberg.

. . . splendid . . . the best yet of George Petrou's extensive series of Handel opera recordings . . . the overall sense of dramatic frisson is apparent from the opening bars of the overture . . . Petrou draws outstanding playing from Il Pomo d'Oro . . . the principal plaudits have to go to Ann Hallenberg's scheming Gismonda . . .["Ben a ragion . . . Vieni, o figlio"] is sung by Hallenberg with such profoundly touching feeling as to elicit tears . . . [Lauren Snouffer's] timbre is lovely, pure and flexible . . . Cencic is an admirable Ottone . . . while the beauty of Xavier Sabata's countertenor gives his lustful Adelberto a drooping, honeyed tone entirely appropriate for an aria such as "Bellabbro" . . . the mezzo Anna Starushkevych brings a rich warmth . . . while the bass Pavel Kudinov completes the line-up with a strongly sung Emireno . . . Vocal ornamentation throughout is admirably stylish and consistent . . . the finest Handel opera recording to come my way for some time.

. . . [this new "Ottone" easily surpasses existing recordings] in consistency of casting and dramatic flair . . . George Petrou draws rhythmically animated, sensitively coloured playing from the crack Italian band . . . The cast is uniformly strong . . . [Cencic] sings his tender opening siciliano and Act 3 lament "Dove sei?" with intense beauty of line and tone, always responsive to the text, and throws off his bravura arias with unforced brilliance . . . [Lauren Snouffer has a warm, rich voice] and a nimble coloratura technique. With a mezzo glint in her tone, she catches well the passionate undercurrents of Teofane's music . . . [Ann Hallenberg, always a superb Handelian, sings "Vieni, o figlio"] with musing inwardness, using delicate ornamentation to enhance the intensity of the da capo. Elsewhere she musters all the imperiousness and, in the splenetic "Trema, tiranno", venom that the matriarch's music demands . . . Anna Starushkevych sings with sensitivity and (in her fiery denunciation of Ottone) plenty of temperament . . . Pavel Kudinov sings with fine, clean resonance and impressive agility . . . this new recording is emphatically the version to have of an opera whose dramatic flaws are redeemed by magnificent individual scenes and any number of good tunes.

L'engagement des interprètes et la grande cohésion sonore et expressive (amplitude des dynamiques et des nuances de l'orchestre sur instruments anciens de Geroge Petrou) font toute la différence . . . Beaucoup ne verront dans cette lecture qu'une nouvelle approche habile, engagée, efficace. Les producteurs vont au delà: ils savent exprimer sous la musique, l'éloquence du théâtre, le surgissement des individus. En "Ottone", Max Emanuel Cencic trouve le ton juste entre gravité et lassitude d'exister . . . On aime ce Haendel sans pompe ni effets flatteurs . . . Les femmes rehaussent davantage l'éclat d'une partition construite comme une pièce de théâtre: Ann Hallenberg demeure onctueuse et articulée dans un rôle de marâtre . . . [la piquante Lauren Snouffer qui] relève le pari d'un caractère à la fois virtuose et profond . . . le sens du drame, le souci de clarté renforcent l'impact de sa prestation . . . George Petrou nuance, cisèle, sait battre le fer et caresser les sentiments d'un drame qu'il est urgent de revoir sur la scène lyrique.

. . . l'essentiel est que le contre-ténor croate trouve un nouveau support pour ses talents, et que le résultat nous permette d'entendre un opéra de Haendel qui ne se pose que rarement sur les scènes d'aujourd'hui . . . La présente version bénéficie d'un premier grand atout avec la direction énergique et acérée de George Petrou . . . Il Pomo d'oro est également une des clefs de la réussite de cet enregistrement, par la précision et l'expressivité de ses instrumentistes . . . Max Emanuel Cencic trouve un personnage de victime qui lui va comme un gant. Toujours à son affaire dans la douceur et dans la plainte, il incarne un Othon dont les émotions touchent immédiatement l'auditeur . . . [Pavel Kudinov] possède les graves caverneux que l'on attend, tout en sachant vocaliser . . . On se réjouit de voir Ann Hallenberg rejoindre "l'écurie" Cencic pour cette intégrale . . . Gismonda, nouvelle Agrippina, semble faite sur mesure pour la mezzo suédoise. Elle confère toute sa complexité à ce personnage délicieusement perfide, capable de s'exprimer aussi bien dans la perfidie que dans le registre de la douceur. Intéressante découverte avec Anna Starushkevych, voix sombre et diction mordante.