This recording is not as exciting as Genaux’s Vivaldi CD, but that’s probably because it’s mostly Hasse and Hasse is not as exciting as Vivaldi. That said, it definitely has its moments. The Handel selections are some of the high points (e. g. “ti pentirai crudel”) but I am not anti-Hasse by any means. the second track, “Qual di voi… piange quel fonte” from Numa Pompilio has some beautiful writing for the oboe and voice parts – the section near the end where it’s just mezzo and oboe alone is really nice. I always enjoy the sound of Genaux’s voice – you would never mistake her for anyone else – and the way she slides so effortlessly through all the coloratura that you hear not “ornament” but rather simple, direct expression. The oboe player is no slouch either – that is some elegant and expressive oboeing. Also noteworthy were the smaller, more intimate interludes of the overture to Didone Abbandonata. Like I said, I am unlikely to go on a Hasse bender independently of Genaux, but it has a certain amount of charm.
My last baroque blitz involved Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco, and I admit I found the lively but never brow-furrow-inducing orchestral stylings of Cappella Gabetta restful. (I have enough forehead lines already, thanks.) I noticed this in both the aforementioned excerpt from Didone as well as the overture to Zenobia.
Finally, the circumstances under which this recording was acquired had the effect of confirming me in an opinion. I bought a cd out of necessity rather than downloading it, and because I usually leave my laptop at work I ended up listening to the recording via the actual disc. I was struck by how resonant it sounded. Low notes of harpsichords! Harmonics! Lute strings! I may be thirty-four years old and therefore on the youngish side as far as these things go (at least in the opera world) but you will pry my stereo from my cold dead hands.
(Addendum: imagine being named Faustina. “Hi! I’m Tina.” “Oh, is that short for Christina?” “No.”)
(I think in order to carry off being named Faustina you have to be either an epic Goth or Zsa Zsa Gabor.)