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GRAMOPHONE (07/2014)
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Reviewer: Alexandra Coghlan


Last year, the soprano Robert Invernizzi joined forces with the mighty mezzo Sonia

Prina for a disc of Baroque duetti da camera. Roaming from Monteverdi to Marcello, Handel to Scarlatti, ‘Amore e morte dell’amore’ (Naïve, 10/13) was an evocative journey through a developing genre. Now Invernizzi returns for a closer look at Handel’s chamber duets, exploring repertoire often overshadowed – especially on disc – by the composer’s operatic writing. With not a bar of recitative in sight, these duets cut straight to the good stuff. Melodically it’s all heady and expansive, but without the narrative frame of the operas or secular cantatas emotions can easily become monochrome, contrasting ecstasy and despair with predictable regularity. Freed from the deadlines and demands of the stage, however, Handel’s invention feels fresh, and there’s not a single dud in a selection that explores the full 40-year span of these compositions.


Invernizzi is joined here by mezzo Marina De Liso – a lighter partner than Prina but perhaps a better fit for repertoire that lacks the emotional abandon of Monteverdi or Lotti. Common to both albums is Handel’s athletic Tanti strali, which here exudes a joy and a youthfulness the slower, earlier version lacks. It is matched by Troppo cruda for the ferocious energy of its coloratura. Neither singer is afraid of ugliness; their directness brings an operatic palette and scope to these domestic works.


The stillness and underplayed intensity of A miravi and the stately dance Beato in ver chi può contrast effectively with the exuberance elsewhere; but while the singers excel in characterisation, compressing musical drama into these microcosms, it would be nice to hear just a little more personality and presence from Fabio Bonizzoni’s rather anonymous harpsichord continuo.

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