The Organ

Handel: Rodelinda

Il Compleso Barocco
Barbican Hall
1st February 2006

I suppose it is a sign of how familiar we are becoming with Handel's masterpieces that not every performance need be treated as a gem on the basis that we may never hear it again! Rodelinda - recently seen at Glyndebourne and now available on DVD - is a good example, for once you know how magnificent the music can be in the right hands it is difficult to accept an inadequate presentation. Alan Curtis did a great deal to raise the status of early music performances almost half a century ago but his direction of the score in the Barbican Hall seemed often to be affected and erring towards the romantic. This may also explain why his soloists seemed to be aiming for emotional impact rather than purity of line. Though Emma Bell made an impressively stately heroine there was little competition. Sonia Prina hooted her way through Bertarido's arias as if she were in Mascagni. The part needs a counter tenor, particularly Dove sei? with its ethereal line and heady intensity. Filippo Adami - a late substitute for Kobie van Rensburg - as Grimoaldo has a pleasing light tenor voice but seemed over parted here. Hilary Summers and Romina Basso were little more than adequate as Unolfo and Eduige, and there was too little differentiation in tone across all of the female voices.

Il Compleso Barocco play stylishly but the sound was often on the this side. The concert was part of the Great Performers series. Unfortunately on this occasion this was not an apt description.