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Emma Bell - Handel - The Herald


17 September 2005
The Herald
5 Stars

The fact that the debut operatic recital on CD by soprano Emma Bell is an absolute cracker should come as no surprise. It's seven years now since she won the Kathleen Ferrier Award, and the plaudits, along with her rapidly accruing international experience, have secured her stellar position among young sopranos. She has also attracted huge acclaim for her first Linn Records CD, a disc of lieder. But this extraordinary set of performances of arias from Handel's operas, sampling the composer's entire operatic output for London, will hike Bell's reputation up a further notch. It's not just that she is a dazzling virtuoso, both in the fastest, most florid operatic lines and the most still, profound, and moving of Handel's inimitable melodies; Bell's art is that, though she has a HUGE voice, it is never weighed down by its power. Her agility and seemingly weightless, nimble delivery bring a freshness to all 11 arias on this disc, in which the soprano is brilliantly accompanied by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, in typically crisp, taut form under director / harpsichordist Richard Egarr. A must for collectors.
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