Gluck - Blessed Spirit

A remarkable evening of arias sung with passion, urgency and drama

Author: 
Richard Lawrence
Gluck - Blessed Spirit

Gluck - Blessed Spirit

  • (La) Semiramide riconosciuta, Il Ciel mi vuol oppresso
  • Ezio (1750 1st version), se povero il ruscello
  • (La) clemenza di Tito, Se mai senti spirarti sul volto
  • Antigono, Berenice, che fai?
  • Telemaco, or L'isola di Circe, Ombre tacite e chete...Dall' orrido soggiorno
  • (Il) re pastore, Elisa? Arminta? È sogno?...Vanne, a regnar
  • (L')ivrogne corrigé, Non jamais un tel époux
  • Orfeo ed Euridice, Qual vita
  • Orfeo ed Euridice, Che fiero momento
  • Orfeo ed Euridice, Ecco novel tormento
  • Orfeo ed Euridice, Che farò senza Euridice
  • Alceste, Figli, diletti figli...Ah, per questo giâ stanco
  • Paride ed Elena, ~, O del mio dolce ardor
  • Iphigénie en Aulide, Dieux puissants que j'atteste (Acte 3, Scène 6)
  • Iphigénie en Aulide, Jupiter, Lance la foudre! (Acte 3, scène 6)
  • Armide, On s'étonnerait moins que la saison nouvelle
  • Paride ed Elena, ~, Ah, lo veggo, ad ingannarmi

Gluck’s reputation today is based on his so-called “reform” operas Orfeo ed Euridice and Alceste, composed in Vienna in the 1760s and rewritten for Paris a decade later, and on the two Iphigénie operas that he wrote on either side of the Paris revisions. But in the years before his reforms he composed some 20 operas, mostly to librettos by the high priest of opera seria, Pietro Metastasio. This concert includes five numbers from the pre-Orfeo years: wonderfully performed, the only cause for regret being the duplication of two items on Cecilia Bartoli’s equally wonderful disc, “Gluck Italian Arias” (A/01).

It’s possible – who knows? – that these unknown operas would not hold one’s attention if staged today. But there is some first-rate dramatic music here, some of it recycled later. The aria from Ezio resurfaced as “Che puro ciel” in Orfeo, for instance, and the “A” section of the aria from La clemenza di Tito became “Ô malheureuse Iphigénie” in Iphigénie en Tauride. Sophie Bevan sings the Tito excerpt with such intensity as to make one almost sympathise with Sesto, the poor sap, in his infatuation with Vitellia. She is joined by Ailish Tynan in a recitative and duet from Il re pastore: their perfectly matched roulades in thirds, and the high horns in the accompaniment, provide the evening’s highlight.

A substantial chunk from Orfeo ends with “Che farò”, taken at a cracking pace by Ian Page and sung with desperate urgency by Anna Stéphany. She brings a comparable passion to Clytemnestra’s scena in Iphigénie en Aulide, as does Bevan to the Italian Alceste. This is a terrific, unmissable disc.

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