Sunday, 5 May 2013

Handel's Giove in Argo

Handel's opera Giove in Argo makes for enjoyable Sunday listening. Thrown together in haste during a critical commercial juncture in Handel's later career, the composer raided his melody bank (and that of others) for a collection of attractive arias, all revolving round the usual ridiculous plot in which everyone seems to be disguised as each other. No matter; the music is first class. Handel was not only adept at writing superb melodies, but he also had a real feeling for the human voice, for the setting of words to music and, most notably, for providing varied and interesting instrumental backing to the singing. Many of the arias are re-cycled from previous works by Handel (and occasionally by others) but why waste a good tune? Unusually for a Handel opera, there are many choruses in the work; although I am usually anti choral music, the choruses here are most pleasant and make a good contribution to the work.

The performance of this newly-assembled opera is conducted by the ever-reliable Alan Curtis, who presides over a caste with no weak links. Pacing and balance are excellent, as is the recording and the playing of Il Complesso Barocco. A good Sunday as I recover from the second bout of norovirus in around nine months.

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