Sunday, January 9, 2011


Not being a cutting-edge sort of person, I am at present (and as usual) getting all enthusiastic about what is old news to everybody else -- in this case a Handel recording called Arie Italiano per Basso issued in 2009 by Deutsche Grammaphone. The singer is the Italian bass-baritone Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (seen above, looking the part of the man whose fans refer to him as "Brando").

Like anybody else who sings in public his presence in the world is extensively documented in the slapdash, catch-as-catch-can world that is YouTube. For myself I seldom feel truly connected to anything that comes to me via YouTube – due I suppose to some vestigial Luddite prejudice – but there is no denying it often proves to be a great source for pirated music. Below, via YouTube, is the complete Track 8 from the album above. I have played it on headphones (from my authorized, purchased copy) about 30 times in the last 24 hours.

As D'Arcangelo says of this track, "When you first look at the score of an aria like Fra l'ombre e gli'orrori [In darkness and terror] from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, you think it's impossible for one singer to have the range to cope with it. That was the challenge for me: I wanted to sing the impossible. Perhaps in Handel's day they sang the high notes in falsetto: we don't know. But I tried to sing them in full voice."

For all of that, it is the low notes (and the sinuous, heartbroken phrasing) that will be retained in amazed memory.