Following up his last collaboration with René Jacobs, a fine Handel recital, Bejun Mehta here presents an intelligent survey of early classical arias. While the great reformer Gluck inevitably opens the programme with the delicious Che purio ciel! from Orfeo ed Euridice, his neglected rival Traetta at last gets his moment in the sun; a scene from his Ifigenia in Tauride in which a slumbering Oreste is tormented by a chorus of Furies is the high point of the recital. Another delight is Se il fulmine sospendi from Gluck’s Ezio and the album fittingly concludes with an aria from that early glimpse of Mozart’s operatic genius Mitridate.

Mehta’s voice might not have the beauty of Scholl (in his prime), nor the brilliance of Jaroussky, nor the flash of Hansen but he trumps them in his intensity of dramatic projection, incisive attack and vivid colouring of text. Mention is made in the booklet of the realistic acting innovations of David Garrick as taken up by the castrato Guadagni; the spirit of whom Bejun Mehta seems to be channelling here.

Maybe it’s a consequence of the artificiality of the falsetto technique but with so many counter-tenors currently on the scene there is a risk of them starting to all sound the same. Thankfully, that is not the case here. Needless to say, the orchestral contribution and Jacobs’ conducting is sublime and the presence of the RIAS Kammerchor is a bonus.

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