Abbandonata: Handel - Italian Cantatas | Vivat VIVAT117

Abbandonata: Handel - Italian Cantatas


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Label: Vivat

Cat No: VIVAT117

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Vocal/Choral

Release Date: 19th October 2018



Acclaimed soprano Carolyn Sampson, partnered by Robert King and The King’s Consort, with whom she has been associated throughout her professional career, turns her talents to Handel’s two most dramatic cantatas, linked by the theme of abandoned women.

During his stay in Italy from 1706-10 the young Handel’s eyes and ears were opened wide. Hearing Italian music played by Italian musicians in Italian palazzos, churches and theatres must have been jaw-dropping. Nowhere are those influences more vividly demonstrated than in his early Italian cantatas.

In Armida abbandonata the heroine tries, and fails, to abandon the love that has abandoned her. Storms, passion, monsters, yearning, heartache, anguish and finally resignation are all portrayed in this strongest of cantatas. Even more powerful emotions are conjured up in Agrippina condotta a morire. The mother of the crazed emperor Nero is ruthless, ambitious, scheming, domineering, violent and beautiful. Realising that she has been betrayed by her own son, her emotions swing through disbelief, injustice, fury, resentment, grief, betrayal, resilience, pride, self-pity, humiliation, thwarted vengeance and finally come to resignation. Handel pushes all the boundaries, showing techniques that were to be incorporated into his works for decades to come in music of astonishing originality.

Recorded in world-class new recording venue, Alpheton New Maltings, demonstrating its exceptional acoustic of striking clarity and warmth.

Extensive presentation includes 60-page booklet with liner note in three languages by Dr Ruth Smith, full texts and translations, and six pages of session photos.



Sampson is hard put to better the stunning intensity of the disc’s second track, Ah! crudele, from the best-known cantata, Armida abbandonata, though the drama of the longer Agrippina condotta a morire runs it close, full of vicious recriminations, as the empress is led to her death, which elide the differences between arias and recitatives with passionate conviction. Strong support from Robert King and the King’s Consort, especially leader Kati Debretzeni.  Nicholas Kenyon
The Observer 28 October 2018

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