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Handel: Alceste ()

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Handel wrote incidental music for only one play, Tobias Smollett's Alceste, and it was never produced, so the composer, characteristically, recycled most of its major numbers. In this recording, Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company deliver a distinguished account of the rarely performed or recorded complete score. Written in 1750, late in Handel's career, it is clearly the work of the composer at the height of his powers, and many of its numbers deserve broader exposure. The soprano aria "Gentle Morpheus" is easily among the loveliest the composer ever wrote, and Lucy Crowe sings it with ravishing sensuality. Crowe's luminous singing in her three arias is one of the highlights of the album. Tenor Benjamin Hulett, whose part is given the bulk of the solos, performs with agility and lightness. Baritone Andrew Foster-Williams seems less than fully at ease with the coloratura of his single aria. The orchestral playing is crisply precise and exceptionally nimble, and the chorus sings with clarity... Hide synopsis

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