Emma Bell - Handel - BBC Music Magazine

Performance 5* / Sound 5*

Quite simply Emma Bell gets better and better. This sparkling recording confirms her reputation as one of the most exciting of the younger generation of Handelians. Berenice's arioso ‘Tutta raccolta ancor' is warmed into life with honeyed tones, and there's heart stopping decoration as Cleopatra in the central section of ‘Piangerò la sorte mia' from Giulio Cesare. It's the suppleness of the voice that excites, with trills that really trill and scales that effortlessly climb the heights above the stave. So who cares if now and again Bell snatches at her topmost notes?

It's Bell's instinct for the drama of a Handel Aria that keeps you listening. Technique is always subordinated to psychology as she turns queens, princesses and sorceresses into flesh and blood women: Melissa spitting fury in ‘Destero dall empia Dite' from Amadigi or Rodelinda shrouded in deepest sorrow in ‘Se'l mio duol non è sì forte'.

Richard Egarr directs a Scottish Chamber Orchestra on its very best behaviour with fine string playing throughout and a magnificently angry trumpet obbligato in the aria from Amadigi. Soloist and ensemble seem to egg each other on to ever-greater brilliance, which surely is just as it should be in the Baroque.

01 October 2005