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Ian Bostridge: The Three Baroque Tenors
John Beard, Francesco Borosini, Annibale Fabri: these three men helped to revolutionized music in the 18th century. Their voices moved the greatest composers of the time to increasingly write for tenors, a move from the Castrati, which had dominated opera since 1600. Now, three centuries since this trio’s brilliance encouraged a surge of new repertoire for the vocal range, world renowned tenor Ian Bostridge celebrates their legacy with his stunning new release, Three Baroque Tenors.
This recording features works by the masters of the age, including six world premier recordings of arias by Caldara, Conti, Gasparini, Handel, Scarlatti and Vivaldi. The previously unrecorded Handel aria is ”Scorta siate a passi miei”, from the “Borosini” edition of his famous opera Giulio Cesare. In this version, Borosini sang the role of Sesto, which was traditionally performed by a castrato with different arias. Much of the repertoire selected by Bostridge has rarely been performed in modern times.
Three Baroque Tenors is a recording that is as fascinating as it is magnificent. It is an overdue homage to this neglected musical evolution and the men who inspired it. It illustrates both Bostridge’s gift for interpreting repertoire from this period, as previously heard on his Great Handel recording, and his skills as a historian. Bostridge, who received his D.Phil in History from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, is well respected in historical and journalism circles. His new collection of essays, On Music, will be published by Faber & Faber in spring 2011.
“I was totally disarmed by this CD. Ian Bostridge is at his most vivid, expressive and delicately ornamental in homage to three baroque singers...Bostridge avoids that wearying tendency to fizz the music up breathlessly, opting instead for clean edges and eloquence. The English Concert, conducted by Bernard Labadie, add real verve.” The Observer, 24th October 2010
“It's a rich collection, imaginatively adumbrating the talents of three master-singers of different vocal types and weights united by superior technique and musicianship.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 ***
“He's a graceful performer and a superb word-painter: he sings the word 'sweet' in different arias with surprising varieties of meaning...accompaniments are lively and stylish.” Classic FM Magazine, December 2010 ****
“Fabri evidently had the breath controlled for extended runs on one syllable: Here Bostridge is first-rate, whether slow, as in Vivaldi's Arsilda, or in the vigorous roulades of Poro...The English Concert provides excellent support, with a lovely bassoon obbligato from Alberto Grazzi in the air by Boyce.” Gramophone Magazine
“his smooth, supple voice is well able to deal with the multiple styles, the virtuosity, and even the baritone-register passages that one might have anticipated his light tone struggling to do justice to. His superb diction means that you don't miss a word, his ornamentation is elegant and precise, and texts are intelligently interpreted.” Charlotte Gardner, bbc.co.uk, 12th December 2010
“Bostridge has the vocal flexibility needed...[Rise, glory, rise] is simply magnificent, with trumpet triumphng in martial bravura...this enjoyable selection may be an eye-opener for those who do not associate Bostridge with this type of music or with such technical agility” International Record Review, December 2010
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As Steals the Morn
Handel - Arias & scenes for tenor
Enjoy the sweet Elysian grove (Alceste, Act IV)
Semele: Where'er you walk
Urne voi (Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, Part I)
Forte e lieto (from Tamerlano)
Oh per me lieto, avventuroso giorno! (from Tamerlano)
Figlia mia (from Tamerlano)
Tu, spietato (from Tamerlano)
Samson: Total eclipse!
Samson: Did love constrain thee?
Samson: Your charms to ruin led the way
Samson: Let but that spirit
Samson: Then shall I make Jehovah's glory known!
Thus when the sun from’s watry bed (Samson)
Fatto inferno…Pastorello d'un povero armento (from Rodelinda)
Esther: Tune your harps to cheerful strains
Heav'n smiles once more … (Jephtha, Act II, 2)
Jephtha: His mighty arm
Jephtha: Waft her, angels, through the skies
As steals the morn (from L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato)
A dramatic collection of solo arias and scenes for tenor drawn for oratorio and opera - some of Handel's most lovely music, brilliantly performed by Mark Padmore and The English Concert, led by Andrew Manze. The concluding duet As steals the morn with soprano Lucy Crowe is an added bonus.
“Tenors are fighter pilots - dashing, heroic, unhappy out of the limelight - and Padmore is an ace among them, soaring through this disc on a velvet voice in various Handelian guises. Semele falls for
his smooth flattery in Where'er you walk', though he decelerates after the intro speed set by The English Consort under Andrew Manze. His blinded Samson is harrowingly persuasive in 'Total Eclipse',
he shows off impressive no-breath acrobatics in Jephtha and dramatises outrageously in the Tameriano extract. The alto Robin Blaze and the soprano Lucy Crow are his top-notch, bit-part crew.” The Times
“Underpinned by Andrew Manze's unobtrusive and warm-hearted English Concert, Mark Padmore uses his extraordinary diction and whispering chamber-like intimacy to remind us that the most exalted tenor arias from Handel's operas and oratorios can achieve true potency out of context.
Favourites like 'Where'er you walk' and 'Waft her, angels' appear to grow out of this varied programme without the sense of being lifted for a compilation; Padmore is a master of taste, restraint and unassuming gesture. 'Pastorello d'un povero' is a touching vignette and the soft singing elsewhere contributes to a concentrated and affecting juxtaposition of human vice and virtue in the Tamerlano scenas. As throughout, Padmore saves the greatest emotional impact for the da capos where coloration reaches new heights.
Indeed, it is the joy in conveying the emotional core of each situation which marks out this disc. Graphic dramatic effects abound (not least the Sultan's gradual giving up the ghost in 'Figlia mia' with a croaking realism) but this is a disc which celebrates Handel's capacity for incisive human observation, achieved more through reflective means than showpiece coloratura.
It's a persuasive and thoughtful approach.
Padmore's lowest register can seem a touch insubstantial but this is a small gripe in a disc boasting – as its parting shot – the duet 'As steals the morn', a performance with the fine Lucy Crowe at her most alluring.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Handel was one of the first Baroque composers to invest his talents in the tenor voice and here this unique English legacy is recalled. Through his shading, dynamic range and commitment to the text, Padmore seduces the listener.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2008
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