Handel: Italian Cantatas / Fantazyas, Colombo, Albertini, Fumagalli, Balconi

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In 1706, 21-year-old Handel arrived in Italy as a prodigious celebrity, already having caught the eye and won the patronage of the Medici family in Florence. Further honors and rewards were heaped on him when he moved to Rome the following year and came under the sponsorship of the most cultured and influential of the city’s noble families. It was for them that he wrote a string of secular cantatas, on time-honored and popular themes of arcadian and amorous bliss. These Roman cantatas have received more attention from scholars and performers in recent years, but the four presented here are still relatively unfamiliar, beginning with the brief, hunting-themed Diana cacciatrice HWV79. This cantata’s striking feature is an aria with echo soprano and trumpet solo, while Alpestre monte is an anguished tale of betrayal and suicide, including a pair of ravishing arias (again for soprano). Faithfulness is once more the vexed question posed by the album’s best-known cantata, Tu fedel? Tu costante? The searing purity of Carlotta Colombo’s soprano makes her a worthy successor to distinguished early-music specialists who have taken on the work, including Emma Kirkby. Conceived on a grander scale, Olinto pastore arcade alle glorie del Tebro is scored for three solo singers, to present an allegorical discussion between the shepherd Olinto, the river Tiber and the embodiment of Glory, concerning how the humble shepherd (a veiled allusion to Handel’s patron at the time) will restore Rome to her ancient greatness. The singer and conductor Roberto Balconi founded Fantazyas in 2000 as a flexible ensemble of instruments and voices specialising in Italian music of the 17th and 18th centuries. They have toured across Europe and Japan, and here they make their debut on Brilliant Classics.

Product Description:

  • Release Date: June 24, 2022

  • Catalog Number: BRI96478

  • UPC: 5028421964782

  • Label: Brilliant Classics

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: George Frideric Handel