GLUCK Opera Arias / Daniel Behle


Opera Arias
Daniel Behle
Armonia Atenea
George Petrou
Int. Release 02 Jun. 2014

Track List

Christoph Willibald von Gluck (1714 - 1787)
Antigono, Wq 21

La Semiramide riconosciuta, Wq 13

Ed. Giovanni Secchi

Ipermestra, Wq 7

Ezio, Wq 31

La Semiramide riconosciuta, Wq 13

Ed. Giovanni Secchi

La Contesa de'numi, Wq 14

Ed. Giovanni Secchi

Le Cinesi, Wq 18

Iphigénie en Aulide, Wq 40

Orfeo ed Euridice, Wq. 30

La Rencontre imprévue, Wq 32

Daniel Behle, Armonia Atenea, George Petrou

Total Playing Time: 1:03:55

. . . a disc that preserves some truly wonderful singing . . . [Armonia Atenea]: heir playing of Gluck repertory on this disc reveals a further facet in their virtuosic diadem. These arias demand both determination and delicacy, and the Armonia Atenea players deliver powerfully. In the fiery music from Gluck's earlier operas, the musicians stretch their muscles with playing of uncompromising precision and rhythmic vitality . . . ["J'ai perdu mon Eurydice" from "Orphée et Eurydice"]: [a] radiant performance . . . Maestro Petrou's pacing of each aria exudes confidence, familiarity, and innate understanding of both Gluck's requirements and the soloist's needs in terms of breath control and dramatic deportment . . . each aria glistens with the individual voice of Gluck . . . Daniel Behle is an artist destined to be one of the most important singers of his generation. In his singing of the arias on this disc, he grasps that destiny with both hands and, in one of the most beautiful recordings of tenor singing released in recent memory, realizes the promise of his earlier recordings. The voice is the genuine article, a full-bodied lyric tenor with a solid core: the power and patina are those of steel and gold, not chrome-plated pyrite. The liquid ease of Mr. Behle's tonal production and his well-schooled bravura technique make him a first-rate exponent of Eighteenth-Century music for the tenor voice . . . The reserves of strength in Mr. Behle's singing make guardedly tantalizing suggestions of "Jugendlicher Heldentenor" potential, and his youthful mastery of Lieder repertory gives notice of meticulously-honed interpretive instincts. The best qualities of Mr. Behle's artistry find outlets in Gluck's music, and each of the arias receives from him a performance that allies consummate musicality with sensitive emotional accents drawn from the text . . . ["Io veggo in lontananza" is] dispatched impressively, and the ringing top notes and credibly-managed trills make the cadenzas delightful displays of exhilarating but historically-appropriate singing . . . In the same character's aria from Act One, "Bel piacer saria d¿un core," Mr. Behle's handling of coloratura is even more expressive, and his negotiations of the grueling vocal intervals are thrilling . . . ["Non hai cor per un'impresa" from Act Two of "Ipermestra"]: a pulse-quickening performance . . . a noble but piercing portrayal of the aria's dramatic ardor. Massimo's aria from Act One of the 1750 Prague version of "Ezio", "Se povero il ruscello," is sung as beautifully by Mr. Behle as it is accompanied by Armonia Atenea. The phrasing of the oboe obbligato is perfectly matched to Mr. Behle's singing, which blooms marvelously as the vocal line ascends . . . Mr. Behle's sustained tones and refined diction in "Se povero il ruscello" provide great pleasure . . . ["Cruelle, non, jamais votre insensible coeur" from "Iphigénie en Aulide"]: one of his most impassioned performances on the disc . . . Mr. Behle possesses an especially beautiful top A: the vocal line of "Je chérirai, jusqu'au trépas" might have been composed for him, and his ascent to top C is elegant and secure . . . ["Oggi per me non sudi"]: his singing of the aria is opulently energetic . . . [this disc] honors Gluck in remarkable ways . . . it is a recording worthy of inclusion among the ranks of the legendary recital discs of DECCA's storied past. Most delectably, though, it is a celebration of Daniel Behle, one of the Twenty-First-Century's finest young tenors. Gluck will receive no finer tribute on the occasion of his 300th birthday than Daniel Behle's singing on this disc.

It is amazing to find in Daniel Behle's fine recital previously unrecorded items from "Antigono" and "Semiramide" . . . As a tenor, Daniel Behle naturally offers the French rewrite of "Orphée et Eurydice", flowingly done. His voice is clear, shapely and unfussy, bringing an ideal clarity to Gluck's transparent lines that is well matched by the exciting Greek period ensemble Armonia Atenea.

. . . Decca deserves commendation for this collection of Gluck arias, four of which receive their world premieres here . . . hear the fearless leap up to high B flat and the very delicate descent from the cliff in the aria "Io veggo in lontananza" from the opera "Semiramide riconosciuta" . . . he is nowhere subpar, and he's very ably backed by the historical-instrument group Armonia Atenea under George Petrou. The overall effect is to give a much fuller picture of this composer than has been available previously . . .

. . . [on "Gluck The Great Operas" 15 CDs box]: [most of] Gluck's output has fallen into neglect. Which makes Decca's celebratory box so useful . . . The recordings are modern . . . with starstudded casts and conductors . . . [on Behle CD]: a well-recorded modern album of Gluck's fines tenor arias . . . Behle is a serious stylist. He will convince all but the most skeptical that the 18th century was right to rate Gluck so highly, and we are wrong to so neglect him.

Seven Metastasio aria settings showcase the bright playing of Armonia Atenea and Behle's assertive singing . . . Behle's precise cadenza and virile embellishments are impressive . . . [he is outstanding in] Jupiter's thrilling soliloquy from "La contesa de' numi" . . .

. . . most enlightening . . . [Behle is] working with the exciting Greek Baroque conductor George Petrou . . . Behle's ductile tenor shows solidity on the bottom of his compass as well as security up to the high B and C . . . Sensitively supported by Petrou, he evidences good breath control . . . an attractive voice, very musically deployed . . . Petrou and his outstanding ensemble Armonia Atenea have made a positive impression in the world of Baroque performance and recording; this project adds another feather to their cap.

. . . it is a delight to welcome Decca's CD devoted to tenor arias by the versatile Daniel Behle . . . They give Behle plenty of chance to show his phenomenal coloratura skill . . . with his lovely voice, he is able to be powerfully expressive in the way that Gluck came to demand . . . in an aria from "Iphigénie en Aulide" and in Orphée's famous lament for the loss of Euridyce . . . delivered, with the aid of George Petrou and Armonia Atenea, in a brisk style . . . The recording is resonant and forward.

. . . [Behle's aria collection gives] immediate satisfaction . . . the programme functions as showcase -- a not unimportant plus-factor, albeit of a canary-fancying kind -- for some of the most beautifully pure, unforced, musically graceful lyric tenor singing I've heard in a very long while . . . in the artistically nourishing, passionately committed company of Armonia Atenea, George Petrou's splendidly vigorous Greek period-instrument band, he displays a whole gallery of impeccable, artistically linked vocal-musical virtues. Whether moving fleetly through passages of testing "agilita" (for example in the gentle triplet-adorned lyrical swing of Mirteo's "Io veggo la lontananza" . . . ) or unfolding with perfect assurance a line of extreme lyrical plainness . . . he "makes a case" for the distinctness of each number from the contemporary norm . . . an example of intense pleasure-giving and significant artistic enterprise in a single must-have CD package . . .

. . . [Daniel Behle schlüpft] gekonnt in die verschiedensten Rollen, vom auftrumpfenden Helden bis zum gekränkten Vater, der über ein leise seinen Weg suchendes Rinnsal nachdenkt . . . Behles Tenor ist wunderbar samten, nie grell oder überdreht in der Höhe, griffig in der Mittellage, sicher in den Trillern und Koloraturen -- mit großem Atem für die oft weit geschwungenen Melodielinien. Die auf originalen Instrumenten der Zeit spielenden Musiker von Armonia Atenea sind dazu der ideale Partner, angeleitet von George Petrou: einfühlsam, unaufdringlich, höchst wandelbar, mit Drive und einer breiten Farbpalette . . . Die ersten acht der elf Arien stammen aus italienischen Opern, darunter nie gespielte Werke wie "Le cinesi", "La contesa de numi" oder "Ipermestra"; und eine jede macht auf andere Weise Lust, sich mit diesem unbekannten Gluck zu beschäftigen. Auf den Dauerbrenner "Orfé ed Euridice" wollte dann auch Behle nicht verzichten. Aber erst an zehnter Stelle. In diesem Kontext hört man die berühmte Musik dann doch nochmal anders . . .

Klug abwägend unterwegs zwischen Oper und Lied erobert sich Behle stilistisch wie musikalisch die Rollen seines Fachs zwischen "Idomeneo" und "Fledermaus" . . . Mit edler Gefasstheit flicht Behle die Schmerzensgirlande des Achill "Cruelle, non, jamais" aus "Iphigénie en Aulide", strahlende Schlichtheit und flexible Ausdruckseleganz bestimmen Orpheus' herzergreifende Klage um Euridice. Glucks Seelendramen leben im lichten "Originalklang" von Armonia Atenea unter George Petrou.

Begleitet wird [Daniel Behle] von dem immer stärker in den Blickpunkt geratendem Orchester Armonia Atena, welches George Petrou mit starker emotionaler Expression leitet. Gleich die Arie aus "Antigono" zeigt, dass der Komponist . . . äußerst inspirierte Musik zu schreiben imstande war. Die horn-dominant instrumentierte Szene mit ihren heroischen Aufschwüngen sollte nach dieser Ersteinspielung eigentlich zum Repertoire-Hit werden. Behles hell-maskuliner Tenor, sattelfest bei Trillern und Staccati, klangsicher in Höhe wie Tiefe, interpretiert stilversiert, gleichzeitig mit eminent theatralischem Instinkt. Orfeos "I'ai perdu" ist bei ihm wirklich ein seelisches Drama . . .

Äußerste theatralische Wucht und innigste Zartheit, ja Zärtlichkeit -- zwischen diesen Polen des Ausdrucks bewegen sich Daniel Behle und die Armonia Atenea unter der Leitung von George Petrou mit enormer dramatischer wie formaler Intelligenz und musikalischer Bravour. Absolut nichts bleiben Sänger und Orchester dem europaweit vernetzten "selfmademan" Christoph Willibald Gluck und seinen stets kongenialen Librettisten schuldig . . . Dabei folgt die hier getroffene Auswahl geradezu gluckisch den Prinzipien von Balance und Steigerung und birgt in sich formale Klammern, die zu entdecken eine Freude ist . . . Dem Sänger eignet sowohl Kraft als Leichtigkeit, Virtuosität wie Schlichtheit. Koloratur, "cadenze di bravura", dramatische Ausbrüche, die Spitzentöne a' und b' -- alles wirkt vollkommen geschmeidig und angemessen. Das Orchester zeigt mediterrane Glut und preußische Präzision. Die Bläser lassen aufhorchen durch persönlichste Gestaltung und selten so gehörte individuelle Klangfarben. Kurzum, diese Interpretation zwingt die Aufmerksamkeit des Hörers charmant und erbarmungslos in die Einheit von Text und Musik hinein und wirkt dabei stets adäquat -- ein Fest des guten Geschmacks!


Daniel Behle, the leading German tenor, here performs glorious arias written by Gluck, a composing genius of the 18th century, yet one whose huge output still remains largely unknown. Sure to elicit a rapturous response, Behle is accompanied by the brilliant Armonia Atenea under George Petrou.

Fast becoming well-known to a wide audience, tenor Daniel Behle has won many plaudits from respected critics. Comparisons to tenor legends such as Wunderlich, Tauber and Dermota have been made and Behle has been praised for his “bright, supple and warm timbre” and his “natural musicality”; all of which is on fine display in this album as he explores the emotions of each character with captivating psychological insight, bringing to light little-known arias by a great master of the transition between Baroque and Classical styles.

Long lauded by musicologists as a revolutionary figure in the history of opera, Gluck has perhaps become over-identified with one stage work, namely Orfeo ed Euridice, premiered in Vienna in 1764. Though an undisputable masterpiece, Orfeo is actually in many ways unrepresentative of Gluck’s output as a whole. Most of the Italian language arias on this recording are taken from his wonderful earlier works in the formal dramatic tradition of the Metastasian opera seria, and Daniel Behle’s powerful advocacy of this music shows how ripe for revival so many of these fine works are. With great versatility he also effortlessly encompasses the very different vocal, stylistic and emotional demands of Gluck’s writing in the grand French manner in such heroic works as Armide and Iphigénie en Aulide. The last track points up the dangers of over-simplification in the study of music history: La rencontre imprévue is an opera comique, utterly French in style, yet it was first performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna, more-or-less under the noses of the Austrian Habsburgs, those die-hard upholders of the Metastasian ideal. With a plot anticipating Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, it was Gluck’s most successful comic work.