Handel: Duetti e Terzetti italiani

Reviewed on Wed 10 Feb, 2016

Variety is the key here as the young composer experiments with intertwining two sopranos, soprano and tenor, or one and two sopranos and bass – in the latter, baritone Thomas Bauer’s rubicund tone is a delightfully rich presence especially in the slower pieces.

Handel’s youthful sojourn in Italy was famously both a formative and fecund one. Among other gems from this period are a group of chamber duets and trios that draw on earlier Italian models for their formal structure but extend the vocal writing into the virtuosic territory familiar to us from Handel’s later operatic arias. Variety is the key here as the young composer experiments with intertwining two sopranos, soprano and tenor, or one and two sopranos and bass – in the latter, baritone Thomas Bauer’s rubicund tone is a delightfully rich presence especially in the slower pieces ('Giu nei Tartarei regni', for example). The La Risonanza instrumental trio provide robust continuo support, but this is an album all about the joy of singing, and the four soloists here audibly relish getting to grips with these exuberant songs.
–Mark Walker