Handel in Italy, Volume 1

Reviewed on Wed 30 Sep, 2015

Bridget Cunningham, London Early Opera and a bevy of singing Bevans focus their attention narrowly on the young Handel, whose three-year sojourn in Italy shaped his musical style ever after. An entirely satisfying programme of Handelian rarities.

Now here’s a welcome change if, like me, you’re getting a bit weary of all those recitals trying just a bit too hard at mixing genres and periods. Instead Bridget Cunningham, London Early Opera and a bevy of singing Bevans focus their attention narrowly on the young Handel, whose three-year sojourn in Italy shaped his musical style ever after. Although doubt lingers over the dating of the six-movement Gloria (it might have been written in Rome in 1707), its inclusion here amply justified by the team’s vivacious account, led by soprano Sophie Bevan. Sophie's sister, Mary, is equally alive to the drama of the arias from Agrippina and Il Trionfo del Tempo, while baritone brother Benjamin gets his chance in the energetic cantata Cupre tal volta il cielo. Cunningham’s rendition of an undated keyboard sonata and the orchestra’s overture to Rodrigo complete an entirely satisfying programme of Handelian rarities. Bring on Volume 2.
–Mark Walker