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Helen Watts / Robert Tear

Handel: Cantatas & Arias (CD)

Of the works by Handel presented here, three are cantatas devoted to the Patron Saint of music, St. Cecilia, another is an Italian cantata that was probably presented for a private patron in Rome while the remaining two works are drawn from Handel’s unique set of ‘Neun Deutsche Arien’ (Nos. 4 & 6 in the supposed original numbering), composed around 1724 to texts by Barthold Heinrich Brockes, the Hamburg poet and city official whose vernacular text of the Passion was set to music by several eighteenth-century composers, including Handel.

Brockes himself was pleased to note of the German Arias that ‘the world-renowned virtuoso, Mr. Handel, set these to music in a very special manner.’ They have attracted many fine singers on record but few with so acute a feeling for Handel’s word-painting as the tenor, Robert Tear.

The three Italian cantatas composed between 1707 and 1737 and sung by the great Welsh contralto Helen Watts, display the singer’s complete command of Italian, her flair for dramatic declamation and her highly sophisticated and agile coloratura technique.

Cantata ‘Splenda l’alba in oriente’, HWV 166
Cantata ‘Carco sempre di gloria’, HWV 87
Cantata ‘Tu Fedel? Tu Costante?’, HWV 171

Helen Watts, contralto
English Chamber Orchestra
Raymond Leppard

Cantata ‘Look down harmonious Saint’, HWV 124

Neun Deutschen Arien:
No. 6: Meine Seele hört im Sehen, HWV 207
No. 4 : Süsse Stille, sanfter Quelle, HWV 205

Robert Tear, tenor
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Neville Marriner