The contralto Nathalie Stutzmann was not yet 30 years of age when she made this extraordinarily dramatic recording of arias from Handel’s Italian operas. It showcases her impressive depth of tone, a voice of tremendous – indeed, in these days, almost unrivalled – projection that inevitably brings to mind the great contraltos of yore from Clara Butt to Marian Anderson.
Stutzmann was, and remains, however, an entirely modern artist, who has continued to innovate in her choice of repertoire and musical partners. Many of these arias were written for castrati and countertenors, who nonetheless sang, we are led to believe, with quite a different, more earthy timbre, than we are accustomed to hear from countertenors today.
In that sense Stutzmann’s assumption of these often powerfully dramatic scenes of love and rage and despair presents an intriguing throwback to the age when they were first performed, especially when, as here, she is accompanied by a period-instrument band who are themselves soaked in Handel’s idiom.
Fammi Combattere (Orlando)
Ah Stigie larve! (from Orlando)
Qui l'augel da pianta in pianta (from Aci, Galatea e Poliremo)
Cara sposa (from Rinaldo)
Va tacito e nascosto (from Giulio Cesare)
Se in fiorito (from Giulio Cesare)
Bramo te sola (from Floridante)
Se dolce m'era gia (from Floridante)
Furibondo Spira Il Vento (Partenope)
Ombra cara di mia sposa (from Radamisto)