Anachronistic Hearts

Héloïse Mas mezzo-soprano, London Handel Orchestra, Laurence Cummings
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Fresh from enjoying Joyce Di Donato’s fabulous new complete recording of Agrippina, I was eased into this CD of Handel operatic arias with the familiar strains of Poppea’s charming “Bel piacere”. A compilation CD such as this relies heavily on the charms of the soprano soloist, and, in this case, we are fortunate to be in the hands of Héloïse Mas, a singer of great musical instinct and superb technique, who like Di Donato is able to bring Handel’s operatic music dramatically to life. Ably supported by the London Handel Orchestra under the direction of Laurence Cummings, Mas conjures up the relevant characters in the course of one short aria and gives expression to their innermost feelings. In among the operatic music are arias from early oratorios as well as a secular cantata, written in Italy in 1707; La Lucrezia, with its narrative of rape and revenge, provides powerful and contrasting emotions for the composer to tap into and for the performers to revel in. All of these performances by Mas demonstrate a voice at the peak of its powers, underpinned with musical and dramatic intelligence, which animates every single moment of this programme.

D. James Ross

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