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GRAMOPHONE (11 /2013)
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Reviewer: David Vickers

Countertenor Hansen ... chart the legacy of the great Farinelli


Four arias recorded by David Hansen were also written for Farinelli. The remaining five were each written for different castrati of inconsistent relevance to the conceptual theme

of ‘Rivals’. This recital focuses entirely on the isolated musical veneer of decontextualised arias without consistent sense of dramatic contexts or characterisations. The flamboyant Vinci arias that bookend the anthology show Hansen’s confident projection, agility and expressive use of embellishments, although the highest reaches of his tessitura risk sounding disconnected and thin. Copious reams of difficult passages are hurled out in a version of ‘Son qual nave’ that seems to have been considerably recomposed by Farinelli in 1753 (nearly 20 years after he had sung his brother’s original version in London) but its impact is curiously superficial. Hansen’s middle range offers melodic expressiveness and dramatic compassion, especially in Gualtiero’s remorseful ‘Cara sposa’ from Antonio Maria Bononcini’s Griselda (1718); the older style of the contrapuntal string parts and melancholic voice part shows that Hansen has immense talent to offer in the right roles. The capable playing of Academia Montis Regalis offers plenty of momentum but not always sufficient charm.

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