For the sake of both vocal and family well-being, Anne Sofie von Otter has always followed the wise course of self-rationing in opera. This disc, an entirely personal selection of arias from the Viennese Classical period, means all the more to her including, as it does, arias sung by dramatic and passionate women 'most of whom', she admits in the accompanying notes, 'I have never performed on stage and, alas, probably never will'.
With opera arias of Hasse, he has become the shooting star amongst countertenors; Valer Sabadus appeared in Mozart roles for the Styriarte in December 2013.
The Salzburg master wrote for some of the greatest castrati of his time: Rauzzini, Consoli, Bedini. The young interpreter must therefore sing up into the heights of the soprano range; he succeeds in this wonderfully, as he also does in the exploration of profound feelings. His mentor Michael Hofstetter is on the podium, adding the orchestra‘s pulsing Mozartian vitality to this flawlessly beautiful singing.
This album of Handel vocal selections should delight the listener with its clear, bell-like soprano and its period orchestra, its Handelian melismas and reverential songs to God. Soprano Dorothea Craxton sings with such a beautiful, creamy sound and smooth technique that one does not hear her breaths. However, this album disappoints for the sole reason that the recording quality is off-balance, often relegating Craxton to sound like a member of the ensemble as opposed to soloist (or being overpowered by one of the ensemble).
According to Christopher Hogwood, in his marvelous biography of Handel, "In the winter of that year , Handel received what was for him an unusual commission. Although closely associated with the London theatre, he wrote very little incidental music for plays. A request from John Rich to provide airs and dances for Smollett's 'Alceste' was undertaken, according to Hawkins, in repayment of a debt to Rich."