Clori, Tirsi e Fileno is one of the most popular chamber cantatas of Handel composed while he was in Italy. There are quite a number of recent recordings of this popular piece. Harmonica Mundi had a 1995 recording of this under Nicholas McGegan, with Lorraine Hunt Liebersson and Jill Feldman, etc. Lorraine Hunt Lieberson was a glorious Clori in that recording. The three shephards and shephardess are depicted by a soprano (mezzo-soprano), a boy-soprano and an alto. In this recording, we have a soprano Clori (Susie Le Blanc), a male soprano Tirsi (Joerg Waschinski), and a alto-countertenor (Cordier). I am happy to report that Le Blanc is almost as good as Hunt-Lieberson in the Harmonica Mundi recording. The real gems, however, lie in the two male characters Tirsi and Fileno, probably the best ever recorded portrayals here by Waschiniski and Cordier. Waschinski's male soprano is absolutely delightful - he reaches the high notes with ease and sings with full-fledged musical flair. The timbre is distinctly male, despite the suavity and beauty of tone, which is a big asset for this role. As Fileno, Cordier's alto countertenor is agile as well as expressive, and he demonstrates a wonderful vocal range with an utterly even tone-production. While none of the performers are big-names, this recording is still unreservedly recommended as being an 'one of the kind' performance that one would most unlikely hear again in the near future. The only minor quibble of this set is that the libretto only contains a German translation of the Italian lyrics.
HANDEL'S DELIGHTFUL PASTORAL= SEVENTY-FIVE MINUTES OF DELIGHT!
There are a few other recordings with other vocal combinations featured, but I found this particular combination of female soprano, male soprano and male alto to be satisfactory in a discrimination process that includes three treble voice. It can be quite annoying if one can not hear the difference between the singers because their voice quality is so similar, so when I bought this eight years ago, that was one of my concerns, but to my delight there was no need for me to check in the line-up while I was listening to see who was singing what; it was easy to ascertain.
The trio of singers herein project a very authentic sound quality for this pastoral-like setting by Georgw F. Handel (1685-1759). This was written in the early years when he was much impressed with the Italian works, particularly one of the leading vocal forms of the day, the Chamber Cantata, in both its religious and secular versions. Its partly narrative and partly dramatic structure, demanded a theatrical setting. The texts were written in a variety of metres and this allowed the composers to vary the sequence: recitative-aria-recitative. This means that da-capo-arias can be found next to ariosi and arias in verse form, and there are semi-narrative lyrical arias some which are dramatised or partly dramatised. The preferred listening theme was love with all its ramifications, as put forth at the time by the Arcadian Academy.
All of this the young Handel adopted with great vigor into his compositional style, and as result we have a wonderfully entertaining composition such as 'Clori, Tirsi & Fileno'. However, beginning from the chamber cantata premise makes for a rather complex score, as much for its dramatic plotline as its musical options; the end result is really a genuine opera in miniature equipped with real refinement and lightness. Handel, in fact, has turned this into an authentic laboratory in which he experiments with the most divine musical and dramatic forms.
It was performed in Rome in 1707; it is a piece of witty, erotic and pastoral delight. The story centers around Clori, the Shepherdess (soprano-Suzie Le Blanc), who we discover is happily playing her two lovers against each other, the lovers being Tirsi(Male soprano-Jorg Waschinski), and Fileno(male alto-David Cordier). When they find out what she is doing they reject her, and she leaves them for somebody else. Meanwhile, Tirsi and Fileno decide that they might be better off with each other!?
The performance of these highly skilled singers is really quite outstanding, both dramatically and vocally. Waschinski has a phenomenal voice reaching very high notes with clarity and power, but in no way can his sound be mistaken for a female soprano. You have only to hear and believe! Cordier, male alto, has a highly resonant voice throughout his very wide range. On many of my other recordings he sings both soprano and alto fluently with strength and evenness. La Blannc literally 'floats' effortlessly through her phrases in all her arias, with a beauteous sound displaying a solid technical facility. The instrumental ensemble Lautten Compagney (seven in all), directed by Wolfgang Katschner, presents an appropriate accompaniment demonstrating some fine instrumental playing.
This seventy-five minute recording was a listening pleasure from beginning to end. Handel's vocal and instrumental score is written with his usual expertise and there is much variety throughout. The liner notes are in German and English; but the libretto is only in Italian and German. It didn't really make much difference to me because the story is simplistic, easy to follow.
I would like to mention that this story has another setting by Giovanni Bononcini scored for soprano, countetenor and baritone; equally entertaining.