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Alice Coote is a rare Handelian bird in that she convinces entirely, both from dramatic and from vocal points of view, in both male and female alto-range roles. Here she offers a snapshot of Handel’s myriad approaches to the almost equally myriad alto-range voice-types at his disposal in arias from Radamisto, Alcina, Hercules, Giulio Cesare and Ariodante, convincing equally as the impetuous Sesto, as the ‘bewitched paladin’ (Richard Wigmore’s excellent liner notes) Ruggiero and as Hercules’ wife Dejanira in her final wild mad scene. There are undeniably moments – notably in ‘Verdi prati’ – where clarity of diction is subsumed in sheer lushness of vocal sound, which, had I been hearing the arias for the first time, would certainly have impeded my textual comprehension (really problematic only in complete renderings of these complex libretti) but as it was, it seemed a pretty fair exchange. That said, Coote is certainly no wallower; the crisp, directional, exuberant yet controlled coloratura fireworks of Stà nell’Ircana belie the sheer vocal heft she possesses, and the deft and fleet-footed playing of the English Concert never feels overbalanced. In fact, the sheer size of voice is thrilling, and it’s very good to hear an increasingly rare full-blooded interpretation of these operatic works. Hyperion’s recording is, as ever, warmly commendable.

Catherine Groom Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing