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Orfeo Ed Euridice
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Orfeo Ed Euridice on CD

Gluck: Orfeo Ed Euridice / Kuijken, Kweksilber, Jacobs, Release Date: 01/01/1999, Composer: Christoph W. Gluck, Performer: René Jacobs, Magdalena Falewicz, Marianne Kweksilber, Conductor: Sigiswald Kuijken, Orchestra/Ensemble: Ghent Collegium Vocale, La Petite Bande, Number of Discs: 2. This was the first period-instrument recording of this opera. Presented in the 1762 version (for castrato) and recorded in 1982, it still stands up very well. René Jacobs has since become one of the world's great conductors of 17th- and 18th-century music, but here he sings Orfeo. His tone is a bit glassy, and the last decade has introduced us to many more beautiful-toned countertenors, but Jacobs' exquisite musicianship and artistry are close to incomparable. His "Che faro", sung with the embellishments used by the original Orfeo, is taken very slowly (no longer the practice) and it's simply lovely-heartfelt, with long breaths and splendid dynamics. He sings off the text and convinces us of Orfeo's plight. Both Marjanne Kweksilber and Magdalena Falewicz are superb as Euridice and Amor. The former sings a women's-lib version of Euridice, with great emphasis and passion; she is an active part of this drama. Falewicz's Amore is similarly aggressive-not just run-of-the-mill perky, but quite pleased with himself. Sigiswald Kuijken leads with what must have been startling attack 26 years ago; tempos are vigorous, winds are spicy, strings slash away. He treats the gentle ballet music with great care, however-it's an appealing oasis. No less than Philippe Herreweghe leads the chorus. The libretto is a facsimile of one from the King's Theatre in 1773; it is charming and not always easy to read. There's no reason why this recording of the 1762 version, along with John Eliot Gardiner's, should not be tied for first place-if, of course, you're looking for a countertenor in the title role. Bernarda Fink makes a fine Orfeo under Jacobs' baton as well. -Robert Levine, ClassicsToday. Com