Handel: Giulio Cesare


Handel: Giulio Cesare (Tolomeo), Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski. Archiv Produktion CD 4742102

This new recording of Handel’s great Giulio Cesare was taped live in Vienna and has the exciting aura of a live performance–and also some of the problems. Minkowski leads an exciting reading, and he has a Caeser who can keep up with his aggressive tempi: mezzo Marijana Mijanovic sings fluently, accurately, and with stunning tone and great involvement, and the fact that she sounds as if she might be a countertenor only helps the situation. Magdalena Kozena’s Cleopatra is wonderful as well–insinuating, ruthless, sad, loving by turns, and (although we’re accustomed to the role being sung by a higher-voiced woman) Kozena is properly feminine and alluring. (Still, no-one compares with Beverly Sills on RCA.) Charlotte Hellekant’s Cornelia is moving and well sung but could use a somewhat darker tone; Bejun Mehta’s countertenor rings forth with style as Tolomeo. A problem is Anne Sofie von Otter’s Sesto–she sounds tired–and occasionally, the orchestra is less than accurate. René Jacobs’ recording on Harmonia Mundi remains the first choice, but this is a very close second. Handel lovers will need both. –Robert Levine