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Danielle de Niese: "Beauty of the Baroque".


During this week from the 5th to the 11th of September, at 12:00 AM and 12:00 PM (Madrid Time), you can listen to excerpts from the new album of Danielle de Niese: "Beauty of the Baroque".

Danielle de Niese
"Beauty of the Baroque"

 

 

 Review from www.deccaclassics.com

 

 

Danielle de Niese explores the Baroque

The talent of Danielle de Niese was already evident by the age of eight: the Australian-born, American soprano grew up singing Purcell and Bach, and as a teenager seeking out music suited to her youthful instrument, she was attracted to the melodic simplicity and the orchestral sparseness typical of the Baroque. It helped her enormously to be already thoroughly grounded in music theory upon entering New Yorkís Mannes College of Music, where she was soon immersed in Baroque performance practice. Her musical and intellectual curiosity has remained insatiable, the result being the exceptionally broad frame of reference that anchors her performances today.

Danielle de Niese constantly bears in mind the Baroqueís emphasis on ìharmony in its purest essence. In the scores the music wasnít entirely notated ñ that ëskeletoní meant that it could be reinterpreted, rewritten, so it always had a fresh approach. Baroque music has a repetitive, strophic nature, often with reiterated passages calling for ornamentation. That was the very ëbonesí of musical style at the time, and in effect it was the birth of the form of the common song we all know today.î

The earliest pieces on this album, the Dowland songs, romanticise the melancholy of love and communicate what Danielle de Niese describes as ìa total immersion in emotionsî. Dowland was vital to the soprano in planning this programme ñ and still more so Bach, whose technical challenges Danielle de Niese willingly embraces. Heard here are two cantata arias that she finds immensely rewarding with their different colours, the one very pastoral in its floating line, the other ìoften quite cheeky, and all about finding the line through text rather than through the notes themselvesî.

Among the Handel selections are familiar arias from Samson and Serse. In ìLet the bright Seraphimî, the ìAî section and its repeat (invigorated by the triumphant solo trumpet) are separated by an exquisite ìBî section, with reiterated string chords supporting the voiceís description of angelic harps. Danielle de Niese views Serseís universally beloved aria ìOmbra mai fuî (which she sings in its original alto key) as a true ìmarkerî of the Baroque period. Eschewing the sentimentality frequently burdening this piece in performance, she concentrates instead on the text and on ìthe strength of simplicityî. The other Handel works heard here are more off the beaten track, particularly The Triumph of Time and Truth. When investigating the composerís revisions of particular pieces, Danielle de Niese found that he had twice returned to his oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, the second time reworking it in English. In examining Beautyís aria ìGuardian angelsî, it was again a mesmerising purity that captured her attention, but also the especially bare accompaniment and, above all, the prayerful qualities of the text.

Musically memorable, while also recalling milestones in Danielle de Nieseís development as a Handelian, are the aria of Galatea (Covent Garden debut, 2009) and the duet from Rodelinda (role debut, Canadian Opera Company, 2005). Greatly moved in Acis and Galatea by the heroineís maturity and selflessness, Danielle de Niese invariably found herself in tears when singing ìHeart, the seat of soft delightî onstage at the Royal Opera House. Acis, slain by the jealous Polyphemus, is released to Nature by Galatea, who transforms him into a fountain ñ and how ravishingly the waterís murmuring is projected both vocally and in Handelís accompaniment.

One of Handelís most affecting duets presents the anguished parting of Rodelinda and her husband Bertarido. Danielle de Niese traces its emotional impact largely to the musicís harmonic component: ìYou feel that these two interwoven souls are being pulled apart by harmony. Theyíre connected in the suspensions and dissonances, but each time the music resolves, they separate. I feel the tension is what binds them together. When they have to accept letting go, the duet resolves into the minor key. You can picture two people with hands entwined, being forced apart.î

What a contrast between Rodelindaís noble pair and the protagonists of Líincoronazione di Poppea! Romeís newly crowned Empress, the ruthlessly ambitious Poppea, joins the even more monstrous Nerone to end Monteverdiís opera with a heart-stoppingly beautiful, apparently sincere love duet. That seeming incongruity does not preoccupy Danielle de Niese ñ ìBusenello, the librettist, didnít attempt to make accurate historyî, and besides, ìTwo bad people make one good couple!î The duet moves continually from dissonance to suspension and resolution. ìIt ends with a unison,î notes the singer, ìbecause these two people are so synched in their intentions and desires that they almost turn into one. Unlike Rodelinda, here you have dissonance thatís meant to resolve. They push against each other and then move into harmony again.î

The recital also includes one of Monteverdiís best-known solo songs. Quel sguardo sdegnosetto captivates Danielle de Niese both textually (the lover begging his disdainful beloved to wound him with her eyes) and in the accompanimentís underlying ciaccona. Entirely in keeping with Baroque style, Danielle de Niese decided to outline the rhythmic nature of the bare ciaccona, asking the players to begin by improvising on its ritornello: first guitar, then lutes, harp, cello, bass, and harpsichord.

Far removed from that vigorous number is music requiring a profound, inward-looking expressive solemnity: the opening duet of Pergolesiís Stabat Mater ñ ìincredibly haunting,î says Danielle de Niese, ìwith the series of suspensions over the bass lineî; and the heroineís supremely moving lament from Purcellís Dido and Aeneas, with ìthat persistent D she sings on ëRemember meí, like a bell tollingî.

This album was recorded with genuine unanimity of purpose. Danielle de Niese is thrilled to be working for the first time with Andreas Scholl while renewing her collaboration with the wonderfully accomplished and enthusiastic players of The English Concert. Harry Bicket, the ensembleís artistic director, has conducted Danielle de Nieseís performances frequently since their 2005 Rodelinda. He is, she says, ìa musicianís musicianî who ìgives you wings to fly&ic

Posted on 2011-09-05 12:05:27.617