The English Concert - Handel: La Resurrezione - Gramophone

Bicket’s cast, expert Handelians all, is self-recommending. With his tightly focused bass-baritone, Ashley Riches brings a malign swagger to the jagged intervals and improbable range of Lucifer’s music, rolling his tongue gleefully round every sneering syllable. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Hugo Hymas sings with even, smoothly rounded tone as St John the Evangelist, dispenser of comfort and wisdom. Iestyn Davies sings the castrato role of Mary Cleophas with his familiar refined artistry, though I find him more convincing in the tragic ‘Piangete’, duskily scored with violas and viola da gamba, and the lilting ‘Augelletti’ than in the more extrovert numbers. Lucy Crowe sings with grace and jewelled precision as the Angel, soaring joyously into the stratosphere. Her bright timbre contrasts ideally with the warmer-toned Sophie Bevan as the sorrowing Mary Magdalene. Bevan’s tenderly shaped and coloured ‘Ferma l’ali’ and ‘Per me già di morire’, exquisitely complemented by the orchestra, are expressive highlights, as Handel surely intended. But forced to choose a single recording of Handel’s flamboyant Roman oratorio, I’d plump for this new version: for Crowe and Bevan, for the consistently superlative instrumental playing and for the idiomatic rightness of Bicket’s direction.

01 June 2022