Daniel Behle : "Gluck Opera Arias"
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Daniel Behle: "Gluck Opera Arias"

spacer Armona Atenea, Petrou. Texts and translations. Decca 478 6758


Lyric tenor Daniel Behle, native of Hamburg, has been busy during the past few years all over Europe, interpreting the stage and concert works of Bach, Handel, Mozart, Rossini and both Strausses. This most enlightening new recital of Gluck arias is his first solo opera album.

Solo albums of the sublime music of the great Bavarian-born composer — whose tricentenary is celebrated in 2014 — have been few and far between. (Most singers have combined Gluck selections with others by Handel or Mozart.) Janet Baker’s serious-minded effort in 1975 was hampered by the glutinous conducting of Raymond Leppard; a quarter-century later, Cecilia Bartoli’s Dreams and Fables, a collection of Gluck’s Italian arias, proved an absolute triumph. One revelatory piece of Bartoli’s success was that she investigated the many stage works Gluck penned before his renowned “reform operas,” beginning with the Vienna version of Orfeo ed Euridice in 1762. Behle pursues the same strategy, working with the exciting Greek Baroque conductor George Petrou. Eight selections derive from Italian-language works written before 1755 to librettos by the omnipresent Metastasio (1698–1782) — Antigono, Le Cinesi, La Contesa dei Numi, Ezio, Ipermestra and La Semiramide Riconosciuta. Three are in French — a pleasant lover’s lament from the 1764 rarity La Rencontre Imprévue, first heard in Vienna, plus a pair from Gluck’s later Parisian period — Achille’s aria from 1774’s somewhat familiar Iphigénie en Aulide, and the best known Gluck aria of all, “J’ai perdu mon Eurydice,” from that same year’s revised (“Paris”) Orphée. These two arias were both unveiled by the evidently brilliant haute-contre Joseph Legros. Another Legros creation — Renaud’s exquisite, flute-accompanied “Plus j’observe ces lieux,” from Armide — is included with this release’s digital download version. As Bartoli’s album demonstrated, Gluck recycled some of the da capo opera seria pieces into his later proto-music dramas: the oboe-enriched “A” sections of Ezio’s stop-time “Se povero il ruscello” (1750) makes plain the origin of Orpheus’ ecstatic entrance into the Elysian Fields.

Behle’s ductile tenor shows solidity on the bottom of his compass as well as security up to the high B and C written for Legros. Sensitively supported by Petrou, he evidences good breath control, command of the coloratura demands that some of the more ornate Italian numbers place on him and a demonstrably working trill. It’s anattractivevoice, very musically deployed; if you want “ravishing” in Orphée’s C-major plaint, listen to Léopold Simoneau. But Simoneau could scarcely have coped with the fierce coloratura demands of some of these selections as satisfactorily as does Behle. Petrou and his outstanding ensemble Armonia Atenea have made a positive impression in the world of Baroque performance and recording; this project adds another feather to their cap. spacer 



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