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Continuing the Handel series from Le Concert d’Astrée and Emmanuelle Haïm is La resurrezione, composed during the young Handel’s period in Rome and first performed there in 1708. The work recounts the events of Easter and the solo singers portray Lucifer, Mary Magdalene, an Angel, St John the Evangelist, and St Mary Cleophas.
It calls upon a large orchestra, led and directed at the first performance by the master violinist Arcangelo Corelli. The role of Mary Magdalene, here performed by the lush-voiced young British soprano (and EMI Classics artist) Kate Royal, was sung at the first performance by the celebrated Margherita Durastanti, even though the Pope had forbidden female singers to perform in public.
In April 2009, Emmanuelle Haïm led a performance of La resurrezione at London’s Barbican Centre, part of a tour which also covered Paris, Dijon, Aix-en-Provence, Lille, Pamplona, Valladolid and Salzburg. The Guardian reported that: “Emmanuelle Haïm's understanding of the relationship between sense and sensuality in Handel has marked her out as one of his finest interpreters, and her performance with her own Concert d'Astrée was notable for its immediacy and expression. The playing had touches of magic as recorders and flutes comforted the uncomprehending saints, and flaring brass heralded the arrival of a new dawn … Camilla Tilling's joyous Angel let fly volleys of flamboyant coloratura … while the great Sonia Prina was vocally spectacular and immensely moving as Mary Cleophas.”
The Salzburg performance led the Salzburger Nachrichten to describe the “springy mastery” of the ensemble, “with sparkling accents from the trumpets, lute and gamba … A Baroque highpoint in an Easter Festival dominated by Romanticism.” Drehpunkt Kultur described Luca Pisaroni’s Lucifer as “dangerously honed” and Toby Spence as “a master of subtle ornamentation”. Overall, the ensemble of singers was “technically and stylistically at the peak of today’s Handel interpretation”, while Haïm herself “knows how to ignite her ensemble to such powerful effect and then to restrain the emotion once more, so that the force of expression never runs wild.”
This complements the judgement of Forum Opéra on Haïm's Virgin Classics recording of another Italian work by Handel, Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno: “Emmanuelle Haïm favours the chamber dimension of the work in an interpretation that is balanced, vivid, refined – but not precious – lively, but never aggressive. She prefers the power of suggestion and this puts the music at an advantage: she breathes and lets things run their natural course. Isn’t that the apogee of art? This Trionfo could become a classic.”
“…a performance of breath-taking clarity. …Haïm maintains the warmth and delicacy of the chamber sensibility for which this work was conceived.”
“Handel's early Resurrection oratorio… is characterised by a freshness and vitality that he seldom matched in more mature works. That spirit shines through in Emmanuelle Haïm's excellent new recording with her Concert d'Astrée, played with all the expressive flair one has come to expect of her. Luca Pisaroni makes a suitably villainous Lucifer and his virile bass-baritone is well up to the wide tessitura of the part... Sonia Prina's contralto is heard to lovely effect in Mary Cleophas's pastoral music. The work's striking opening aria belongs to the Angel, taken here with plenty of presence by Swedish soprano Camilla Tilling. Two British singers complete... both give of their very best. Toby Spence is elegant in St John the Evangelist's music, and Kate Royal find sumptuous beauty and emotional depth in the part of Mary Magdalene.”
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