New York Times Music Review | ‘Baroque Collection’

Handel’s Sacred Arias, Intimate and Affirming

By ANTHONY TOMMASINI
Published: December 21, 2008

Christine Brewer, a leading dramatic soprano who will sing Brünnhilde in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Wagner’s “Ring” this spring, does not leap to mind as a Handel interpreter. So the prospect of hearing her sing sacred arias by Handel in the final concert of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Baroque Festival was very intriguing.

Because of a family emergency, Ms. Brewer, sadly, had to withdraw from Friday night’s concert, titled “Baroque Collection: The Beautiful and the Bizarre.” Fortunately, the soprano Julianne Baird, acclaimed for her early-music work, was available on short notice. It was no surprise that Ms. Baird knew the pieces Ms. Brewer had been slated to sing: six of Handel’s “Nine Arias for Soprano, Violin and Continuo,” settings of household devotional texts by the 18th-century German religious poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes.

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