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Ian Bostridge - Great Handel

15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 17, 2007
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Ian Bostridge - Great Handel + Three Baroque Tenors
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

Listening to these very diverse arias, it's easy to understand why Beethoven is reported to have esteemed Handel above all other composers. The program includes three of his greatest hits: "Ev'ry Valley," "Where'er You Walk," and "Ombra mai fu." The other arias, taken from operas and oratorios and in Italian and English, are less familiar but no less great. They display Handel's versatile, multi-faceted genius and his ability to express every human mood and emotion through purely musical means. In his liner notes, Ian Bostridge traces his Handelian roots back to his childhood. Indeed the style seems natural to him. Bostridge even makes the arias written for castrati persuasive, despite the difference in key and color. His coloratura runs are brilliant, while his intonation and diction impeccable. However, the baroque orchestra's flat tuning sometimes forces Bostridge into an uncomfortably low register, and his habit of starting notes without vibrato and swelling them tends to become mannered, disrupting the melodic flow. The orchestra is excellent, but with sparing vibrato and straight-forward phrasing seems to inhabit a different stylistic world. Moreover, it sounds distant and subdued, as does soprano Kate Royal, who joins Bostridge in two duets. The program, though compiled for maximum contrast, may be most enjoyable in moderate doses. --Edith Eisler

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
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Product Details

  • Performer: Ian Bostridge, Kate Royal, Sally Jackson, Lisa Beznosiuk, Steven Devine, et al.
  • Orchestra: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
  • Conductor: Harry Bicket
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (July 17, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B000PFU9LK
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,563 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R. Rolland on July 20, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Just when the torrent of Handel recitals seemed to have slowed, we get two great tenor recitals in less than a month. Mark Padmore and Ian Bostridge double up on only a few airs - Where'er you walk, Total eclipse, As steals the morn, Waft her, angels. Padmore is more dramatic, with longer scenes; Bostridge more lyrical. I usually listen to them back to back, but if I only have time for one, it is the Bostridge that gets chosen. His "Waft her, angels" pierces the heart.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By George Peabody VINE VOICE on September 1, 2007
Format: Audio CD
SOMETIMES DEVOTIONAL, ALWAYS EMOTIONAL, BUT MOSTLY SENSATIONAL!!

"Handel is the GREATEST composer who ever lived. I would bare my head and kneel at his grave." Thus said the great Beethoven.

The repertoire on this album is from both Handel's famous operas and oratorios, some of which were written for castrati. Ian Bostridge says that his aim is to put the spotlight back on the Handel tenor with the making of this album, while he also attempts to represent with the program, Handel's ability to recreate himself while remaining essentially the same. Handel has long been identified with great Choral Music, in part, and mostly with 'The Messiah'. Without diminishing the power of his traditional work, informed opinion lately has come to the true heart of his greatness: Opera.

Ian Bostridge, accompanied by the sublime Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, takes on a selection of arias and airs (and two duets) from Handel's operas and oratorios. He embraces these excerpts with equal parts grace, as in the lovely 'Ombra Mai Fu' and gives due strength to 'Scherzo infido' from 'Arodante'; and reminds us that great roles in late Baroque opera weren't confined to countertenors.

I have always been attracted to the sound of Bostridge's voice, and his singing is manufactured from a very intelligent mind, and a musical sensitivity that is rare in many singers. But in the past 10 years his voice has deepened and grown and I think he has attained the perfection for which he was striving. I have really never heard the much sung 'Where'er you walk' performed with such incredible emotion and feeling. Even the very fine tenor John Aler,who sang the song in the outstanding award-winning opera 'Semele', really does not match Bostridge's renditon on this disc.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 17, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I get the feeling that Amazon has given up providing official (paid for) reviews, so buyers won't be told that this colleciton of Handel from Ian Bostridge selects from Ariodante, Acis and Galatea, Samson, Jephtha, L'allegro e il penserosso, Semele, and of course, Messiah. The singer's voice has darkened since its fragile, willowy early days, and even though there are still a few holdouts like me who cannot abide its eccentric reedy timbre, there is no doubt about Bostridge's artistry. Here he gets good period accompaniment from the famous Age of Enlighenment orchestra (zingy strings, no vibrato), although the conducting is notably sluggish at points. The singer avoids his often excessive underlining and over-acting, so all in all one must call this CD one of his best recent outings.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By George Goldberg on September 14, 2013
Format: Audio CD
Often bracketed with Bach, Handel and Bach were as different as contemporaries could possibly be. I would instead compare Handel with Schubert, history's worldliest and un-worldliest composers, but both with an infinite gift for melody, one lovely, ravishing melody after another, and another. But Schubert can be depressive, Handel never - being acclaimed and rich, it may be, is better than being little appreciated and poorer than a church mouse; being large and imposing is also better than being so small and round as to be nicknamed Mushroom.

As for Bostridge, there are many ways to perform Handel. Bostridge's is the gentle way, emphasizing melody over rhythm, sweetness over strength; it works for me, though I like the other ways too. Sung as Bostridge sings it, this is the most heart-stabbing, almost heart-breaking music ever composed, and yet also the most peaceful, serene. If you take an ace inhibitor or calcium channel blocker, try this instead to lower your blood pressure and slow your pulse with no side effects whatsoever; and, into the bargain, an antidote to the cynicism generated by events in the quotidian world of politics, economics, and unending war - not to worry, God won't end the world while such music exists.
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By A blogger on June 25, 2015
Format: Audio CD
I think that Ian Bostridge can sing Schubert lieder but definitely not Handel. He lacks the excitement and power of a true Handelian singer. He fails to thrill on this CD.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By HSIEH CHENG CHUNG on October 28, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I am a fan of Handel and Bostridge, so I am interesting that how to link them to show. In fact, I am still appreciated in Bostridge's voices, young but energetic, warm with pure, but that's the reason what I think he didn't express complete handel, he appears his individual handel.
I mean that Bostridge often sing to touch listeners depth, ex , schubert britten, his beautiful voices belong to lyric art. Handel's music, especial on opera, often show more skills on it. I don't think Bostridge's skill is weak, but that didn't express his professional.
If you focused on the arias of this disc, you would understand what I said. These are belong to Bostridge's beauty only.
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