Max Emanuel Cencic / Armonia Atenea / George Petrou HANDEL Arminio

A number of recent DECCA recordings of Baroque repertory have benefited from the playing of Armonia Atenea and the conducting of George Petrou, but their work in this "Arminio" sets new standards for performances of Händel's operas . . . the orchestra's efforts serve as a catalyst to the opera's drama, not just an accompaniment . . . a whirring, invigorating performance that honors the best elements of historically-informed performance practices without compromising listeners' enjoyment with the acerbic sounds, faltering intonation, and exaggerated rhythms that constitute the worst aspects of period-appropriate methods . . . The singers truly perform the opera: in recitatives, here rendered as engagingly as on any recording of a Baroque opera, they seem to listen to one another, something that too few singers bother to do even in staged performances. Whether the music being sung is by Händel or Henze, opera is a team sport. With Max Emanuel Cencic and George Petrou as its co-captains and a team of all-stars playing all positions, this "Arminio" never misses an opportunity to score. (Joseph Newsome)

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