Classical Opera Company - Artaxerxes - Classic FM

The Music Artaxerxes is a rare beast, perhaps a unique one: an 'opera seria' composed to English words.  Almost all of the numbers are solo arias; there are two duets, and an ensemble Finale newly composed by Duncan Druce to replace the missing ending.  Arne owes much to Handel, but he tends to write more concisely.

The Performance This studio recording is based on a staged production, and it shows in the natural way in which the characters interact.  The recitatives - also new, composed by Ian Page - are delivered with conviction, flowing seamlessly into the arias.  Christopher Ainslie as Artaxerxes woos with honeyed tone, while Caitlin Hulcup as his friend Arbaces impresses with her coloratura.  The soldier, tir'd of war's alarms, recorded years ago by Joan Sutherland, goes to the excellent Elizabeth Watts as Arbaces' lover.  There's much delectable writing for the woodwind and horns, all beautifully played.

The Verdict This lively account of a charming work will give much pleasure.  The only drawback is the mispronunciation of names - especially Darius, which should rhyme with 'to try us', not 'various'

04 March 2011