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After a fine Handel recital CD, not to mention taking part in a dozen other major recordings, countertenor David Daniels has hit the jackpot. This fascinating, handsomely recorded CD offers us arias from Mitridate and Ascanio in Alba, and a concert aria by Mozart (the only one he composed for male alto), as well as some Handel and Gluck arias. With them, Daniels takes us through every quality a classically trained singer should have and comes through with flying colors. The arias are about vengeance, sorrow, love--the usual--but within baroque strictures that means that some require lush, limpid singing, others ferocious coloratura and exclamatory heft, and some all of these. Daniels is the one countertenor around who doesn't seem to be afraid of leaning on his voice. It's of course not within the ability of a voice produced so high up to "boom," but the gradation of dynamics he has at his command offers us many different colors and moods. It may be true that an entire hour of countertenorizing can tire the ear, but the program has been so well chosen and is so intelligently ordered that this is not an issue here. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment plays energetically under the direction of Harry Bicket. Recommended for those who might be curious about how good this type of hybrid voice can actually be and certainly for fans of really good singing. --Robert Levine
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David Daniels is recognized as one of the outstanding American countertenors today, possessing a voice of great warmth and beauty along with a magnetic stage presence, which serves him very well, especially when singing operatic arias.
This recording demonstrates very well indeed this ability. He has chosen operas from three composers:Mozart from "Mitridate" and "Ascanio in Alba" along with a beautiful Concert aria:"Ombra felice...Io ti Lascio"which I think is the highpoint of this disc.;Gluck:"Telemaco"-"Orfeo ed Euridice"; and of course Handel:"Tolomeo" and"Partenope".
All renditons are perfectly performed with the correct emotional intensity, so much so that one wishes to SEE him doing all of these great arias.
One comment about the statement made by Robert Levine implying that it would be somewhat difficult to listen to the countertenor voice for any prolonged length of time. I think that would depend upon the preference of the listener and his overall sensitivity to the music in question. I personally find GOOD countertenor voices to be ethereal, almost "other worldly" extremely pleasureable to hear!!!!
Two completely different selections from Mozart's first opera, "Mitridate", are included here - the aggressively rhythmic "Venga pur minacci e frema" with its intensely dramatic strings and the majestic and remorseful concluding aria "Vadasi...O ciel...Già dagli occhi". They illustrate Daniels' versatility in capturing the two sides of the nefarious character of Farnace. He also tackles the only concert aria Mozart ever wrote for a castrati, "Ombra felice...Io ti lascio", in an exquisitely modulated performance. The Gluck selections are highlighted by the touching "Che farò senza Euridice", which achieves an almost dream-like beatitude, and the pastoral "Che puro ciel". Although already breathtaking up to this point, Daniels saves the best for last as he goes back into familiar territory with Handel's two operas, "Tolomeo" and "Partenope", the latter which he has performed onstage on several occasions. From "Partenope" comes the beautiful title track "Sento amor" where his character Arsace experiences devotion and confusion over his still strong feelings for the disguised Rosmira. Daniels' vocal runs are especially amazing on the last aria, "Furibondo spira il Vento", where his conflicting feelings toward Rosmira come to a boil in a turbulent cauldron as she rejects him.
As with Daniels' first recital recording, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment accompanies beautifully but this time under the expert baton of Harry Bicket, who later conducted Daniels in the 2001 Staatsoper München production of Handel's "Rinaldo" (now on DVD and highly recommended). "Sento amor" is a great recording, a must-have addition to any superior Baroque musical collection and further testament to the wondrous talent of David Daniels.