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Expected a little more....
Ildebrando d'Arcangelo has been one of my favorite singers for a very long time. I was very much looking forward to this album's release in the hopes of hearing a little English from this great artist. And while none of the pieces on the album are in English, what is here is very, very good....but not great.
The voice is solid throughout the middle of the range and can easily extend to F below the staff and D and E above; but, in recent years, it has become forced and artificially darkened as Mr. d'Arcangelo delves deeper into the bass repertoire. I hear tension and pinching at the top and snarrbass and vocal fry in the extreme low.
I think there are some real gems here, but all in all believe the album could have been more finely moulded to this singer's strengths. And while those strengths are certainly contained herein, I would have like a more consistent album.
What a Change!
Typically the male low voices are the weak link in any baroque opera - we either get a small, reedy, unattractive sound, or a real bass that has to huff through the coloratura. With this artist, we don't have to compromise! D'Arcangelo has a beautiful, roomy bass, and the natural idiomatic delivery that comes from being a native Italian speaker. In the slower, more expressive pieces (such as the famous Serse largo or the Siroe aria), the sound simply pours forth with seemingly unending breath. The Aci aria (Tk. 8) shows how easily he moves through the full range of his voice - yes, the top can sound occasionally forced and the bottom can sound shallow, but it's a fearless rendition nonetheless. He has also included several florid pieces that showcase his coloratura technique. These are a bit more of a mixed bag. Sometimes it is quite amazing that such a full and dark sound can have such agility (as in the Orlando arias), while other times the very light aspirate he typically employs can turn quite unbecoming, as can the effort at lightening the tone (as heard most evidently in the downward scales in the Rodelinda and Rinaldo arias). Please don't let these quibbles keep you away from a very enjoyable disc of Handel pieces that are seldom recorded and even more seldom sung so well!