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Tamerlano was one of Handel’s greatest hits of the 1720s.

For 21st century ears, what stands out is its leading tenor role, unusual for an opera seria: even Domingo has tried singing Bajazet, though he would be hard-put to rival the stylishness of John Mark Ainsley in this new studio recording.

The arias, while not “popular”, are from the composer’s top drawer, as becomes clear not just from the refined singing of Xavier Sabata in the Senesino title role, but also from Karina Gauvin’s exquisite Asteria and Ruxandra Donose’s graceful Irene.

Il pomo d’oro provide further evidence that the period movement’s centre of gravity has shifted emphatically in Italy’s direction.

Handel

Tamerlano

Il pomo d’oro/Riccardo Minasi

(Naïve) 3 CDs

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