February 8, 2023


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Nine German tunes HWV 202-210. Eilika Wünsch (soprano), Teo Raul Arias (violin), Johann-Sebastian Sommer (cello) Bernhard Wünsch (piano / arrangements) hänssler Classic HC 2009

CD Review: Handel: Nine German Arias HWV 202-210

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Elika Wench (soprano), Teo Raul Arias (violin), Johann-Sebastian Sommer (cello) Bernhard Wench (piano/arrangements)
Hansler Classic HC 2009

The fact that George Frideric Handel, in the midst of his successes in London with major works in English and Italian, composed an intimate cycle of arias in his native language is as much a surprise as it is a stroke of luck. The Nine German Arias is a fine example of early sensibility music no longer stemming exclusively from the baroque splendor of forms. It consisted of only four artists, namely voice, melody and basso continuo. It is interesting that each song has its own opus number in the index index, so it can and should be listed individually. The periodical performance is of course still an added value, since the structure and sequence of the works are well thought out based on texts by Hamburg native Barthold Heinrich Brooks. Now soprano Elika Winch presents a new recording (Hansler classics) – together with her husband, pianist and conductor Bernard Wunsch, Tay-Raoul Arias (Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, violin) and Johannes Sebastian Sommer (Göttinger Symphony Orchestra, cello). The quartet does not play “historical lore”, but with an audible realization of form and appropriate tonal identity, soft and without too much vibrato. The fact that all parts of the instrumental melody (originally also flute and oboe) are played in the same group gives the recording a greater unity. There’s a clever balance between the vocal and the instruments, with the focus sometimes here and sometimes there. Bounce ensures good sound, but sometimes at the expense of text clarity – a pity every now and then. Eilika Wünsch always manages to deliver new and surprising notes – especially in high pitch. And if you’re looking for some Handel hits, you’ll have it with “Ombra mai fu” and “Lascia ch’io piango” as a bonus. Beautiful Christmas music for everyone who wants to hear Handel apart from “Messiah” and “Water Music”! And the words are printed in full in the booklet.

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Moritz Liebknecht