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With several notable recordings of Giulio Cesare already available – Jacobs, Minkowski and Petrou on CD, Christie on DVD – it’s curious that Alan Curtis has chosen to make another, especially as there is nothing significantly new or different about his version. That said, it’s a polished set, with stylish playing from Il Complesso Barocco and lovely singing from Emőke Baráth (Sesto) and Karina Gauvin, whose Cleopatra becomes richer and more nuanced aria by aria. The studio setting allows for pristine clarity, but perhaps explains to a certain lack of atmosphere and dramatic urgency: Marie-Nicole Lemieux, a vigorous, ardent Cesare, is the only singer to really inhabit her character. Curtis’s practice of composing the da capo ornaments may not help; he says it ensures ‘consistency of style’, but it also curtails the singers’ expressive flair. The outcome is a Giulio Cesare that is often beautiful, yet sounds too careful to stir the passions.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing