A sensational new figure on the Baroque music scene in the early 2000s, conductor Emmanuelle Haïm electrified audiences with her passionate interpretations of operatic and choral works. She has never studied conducting formally, and, like many other performers involved with older repertoire, she first came to early music only in adulthood.
«It’s tempting to think these duets, which Handel composed at various points in his career, are just chips from the master’s block. But they constitute a delightful hour’s worth of music, and when sung with the vocal brilliance and stylishness displayed here by ten top singers in various pairings, they add up to one of those rare discs it’s hard to stop returning to. Handel must have thought a lot of them too—since he reused some of this music for oratorios like Messiah—and turned to the chamber duet form in his last years as well. There isn’t a weak link among the soloists, though the contributions of Natalie Dessay, Veronique Gens, and Sara Mingardo are especially noteworthy. Whether asked to sing plaintive laments or flashy coloratura displays, these well-matched voices thrill. The accompaniments (harpsichord or organ, lute and cello) are faultless. The appeal of this disc extends far beyond Baroque specialists to anyone who enjoys outstanding singing.» —Dan Davis