Emma Bell - Handel - Hi-Fi News
Performance 5* / Recording 4*
Emma Bell's career was kick-started by a Handel role she undertook for Glyndebourne Touring Opera at very short notice in 1998; winner of that year's Kathleen Ferrier Prize she has subsequently worked at the Komische Oper Berlin, Glyndebourne and Covent Garden, mostly in Handel and Mozart roles. Emma Bell is due to sing Violetta (La Traviata) this year at the ENO and she appears in Alexander's Feast at the Proms on 1 August.
Her second Linn programme, partly funded by a grant awarded to her by the Borletti-Buitoni trust, is of eleven arias from operas Handel wrote for London performances from 1711 to 1741 - Deidamia to Rinaldo - covering a wide emotional range, if with a preponderance of tragic material.
The recording was made at the Usher Hall, its acoustic not ideal for the voice, but with great immediacy for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under the period-instrumentalist Richard Egarr. His stylish accompaniments (and there's a brilliant prelude to track 1, from Amadigi) underpin Bell's articulate, full-toned and dramatic renderings, the most striking of which perhaps is Melissa's Destero dall empia Dite from Amadigi (1715). The full Italian/English texts are printed with useful descriptive paragraphs on each aria.