In this enchanting disc, Carolyn Sampson’s ravishing, silvery tones are put to the service of some of Handel’s most joyous and profound music for the solo voice. Handel wrote little for his native tongue, but what he did demonstrates a particular level of contemplative pietism while still employing the familiar techniques of Italian opera. In these nine German arias he set the poems of his contemporary Barthold Heinrich Brockes, and their theme is that the abundant goodness of God is evident in the joy and beauty of His creation. The musical relationships with Handel’s opera arias are evident in the endless ingenuity of his characterization and the expressive, articulate melodies with which the soprano and the violin obbligato create their vivid images. These arias are paired with Handel’s three oboe sonatas delightful works which demonstrate the composer’s enthusiasm for the instrument’s expressive capabilities and colours.
'With her pure, luminous tone, graceful sense of phrase and discerning musicality, Carolyn Sampson gives enchanting performances of music that is essentially about enchantment … 'Süsse Stille' is exquisitely shaped and savoured, with a rapt, confiding pianissimo at the da capo. Elsewhere Sampson perfectly catches the blissful langour of 'Künft'ger Zeiten eitler Kummer' and brings a smiling eagerness to 'Die ihr aus dunklen Grüften', enhancing the da capo with playful touches of ornamentation' (Gramophone)
'The nine German arias Handel composed … still rank among his best-kept secrets. Barthold Brockes's verses are a pantheistic celebration of God-in-Nature, and Handel responded with music of hedonistic enchantment, from the rapt, wondering Süsse Stille to the laughing ebullience of Das zitternde Glänzen. Always a lovely Handel soprano, Carolyn Sampson sings these arias with her trademark pellucid tone and refined phrasing. She spins a smooth, serene line in the more contemplative numbers, and dances blithely in an aria such as Süsser Blumen Ambraflocken, vying with violinist Stéphanie-Marie Degand in playful coloratura flourishes' (The Daily Telegraph)
'Carolyn Sampson beautifully expresses inward rapture and outward joy, and she is touchingly wistful in 'Süsser Blumen'. She is nicely matched by the violin of Stéphane-Marie Degand, and the spiky tone of Alexandra Bellamy is an extra pleasure in the three oboe sonatas' (Classic FM Magazine)
'Carolyn Sampson comes across spectacularly well on disc. Her beautiful sweet-toned soprano is ideally suited to the baroque repertoire and here, as in the other Hyperion releases such as Handel's Ode to St Cecilia, she excels. The performance is well-integrated, both within the ensemble and between instruments and voice' (MusicOMH.com)
'Carolyn Sampson's singing is graceful, pure-toned, beautiful … She embellishes neatly, her runs are smooth, and in a contemplative song like Künftiger Zeiten eitler Kummer she can spin out phrases to magical effect … Balance and clarity are admirable, as indeed are the introductory texts' (International Record Review)
'Sampson persuasively evokes the innocent, carefree countryside in Handel’s Nine German Arias, both at quicksilver speed with babbling effervescent runs and shakes in Das Zitternde Glanzen, and at languid siesta pace with caressing vocal heat and a slight, appealing huskiness in Süsse Stille … The oboist Alexandra Bellamy plays the three oboe sonatas with thrilling buoyancy, burning long notes and no mechanical clatter' (The Times)
Recording details: October 2006; Menuhin Hall, Yehudi Menuhin School, Stoke d'Abernon, Cobham, Surrey, United Kingdom; Produced by Ben Turner; Engineered by Philip Hobbs; Release date: June 2007;