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Four singers and three continuo players collaborate on this selection of Handel’s Italian duets and trios from the period (1707–1709) of his stay in Italy.

‘Quel fior che all’ alba ride’ (HWV 200) is sung by Roberta Invernizzi and Silvia Frigato (sopranos) with the baritone Thomas Bauer. The intertwining counterpoint links the three voices in expounding what could be a fugal theme, and plays wittily on the meaning of the text in the manner of the earlier madrigalists. Both Invernizzi and Frigato have sweet-toned, full soprano voices (as opposed to the voce bianca style which is quite wrong for Handel) and Bauer’s baritone gives the trio a strong foundation. Krystian Adam’s tenor is only heard in ‘Caro autor di mia doglia’ (HWV 182) but has a pleasant timbre that matches the others.

The most astonishing of all these pieces is the fiercely chromatic ‘Se tu non lasci amore’ (HWV 201) in which all three voices sing ascending and descending scales in semitones, with some extraordinary clashes, all the while underlain by the excellent continuo playing of Caterina dell’Agnello (mellow cello), Evangelina Mascardi (a lush and plummy theorbo) and Fabio Bonizzoni, crisp and elegant on the harpsichord.

Simon Rees Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing