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‘With his acting chops and weighty bass-baritone, Purves in full cry is a splendid and fearful spectacle’ (The Times)
The magnificent Christopher Purves performs a recital of Handel’s bass arias. This unique collection demonstrates the range and brilliance of Handel’s writing for this voice, featuring a selection from Italian and English operas, English classical drama, Biblical oratorios, literary odes and a masque. Handel’s endlessly imaginative gift for characterization is fully explored here, with Purves commanding an extraordinary emotional and technical range from the buffo blustering of Polyphemus in Acis and Gatalea to the loving musings of Abinoam in ‘Tears, such as tender fathers shed’ from the oratorio Deborah.
“Possessing in effect two voices in one - a ringing, incisive high baritone with a sonorous bass extension...Purves's flair for specific characterisation enlivens every number on the disc...A counter...to the cliched notion that [Handel's] bass arias are all undifferentiated bluster.”
10th January 2013
“Purves is a fine vocal actor, and we're continuously aware of the variety of Handel's style and the sharpness of his characterisation. The great moments are those in which the singing reveals the depths of Handel's psychological insight, above all in a scene from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, in which the monster Polifemo is suddenly shown to have immense nobility of soul.”
19th January 2013
“Purves’ voice has a noble timbre and is informed by the keenest intelligence”
“one to treasure both for the sensitive and well-sustained singing of Christopher Purves and for the wonderfully wide expressive range of Handel's music...Purves has an acute ear, serving well his intonation and lively feeling for characterisation...The pleasure of single-voice recitals can sometimes be tempered by repetitive mannerisms or exaggerated gestures. Purves avoids both, ensuring enjoyment”
“He relishes verbal dexterity, and the sound of his rolling consonants in Racks, gibbets, sword and fire from Theodora is not easily forgotten, He shakes the word ‘racks’ around his mouth like a dog savaging a toy doll...This outstandingly good disc offers a wide range of music, feeling, texture and mood. Singer and accompanying group are perfectly matched in a sympathetic church acoustic.”
“Purves not only gives a masterclass in characterisation in this collection of opera and oratorio arias, but also showcases a formidable range of nearly three octaves in the fiendishly difficult scene from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo. Equally characterful support from young ensemble Arcangelo under Jonathan Cohen.”
Early Music Today
“Christopher Purves gives us masterful, dazzling and powerful performances of scenes from 15 of the composer’s dramatic works, lithely and splendidly supported by up-and-coming ensemble Arcangelo and conductor Jonathan Cohen. In short, this is the most outstanding album of its kind I’ve ever heard from any singer.”
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