Handel: Finest Arias for Base Voice, Vol.1

Arcangelo & Christopher Purves (Baritone)

The magnificent Christopher Purves performs a recital of Handel’s bass arias. This unique collection demonstrates the range and brilliance of Handel’s writing for this voice, featuring a selection from Italian and English operas, English classical drama, Biblical oratorios, literary odes and a masque. Handel’s endlessly imaginative gift for characterization is fully explored here, with Purves commanding an extraordinary emotional and technical range from the buffo blustering of Polyphemus in Acis and Gatalea to the loving musings of Abinoam in ‘Tears, such as tender fathers shed’ from the oratorio Deborah.

Featured works

  • Handel: ‘Sibilar gli angui d’Aletto’ from Rinaldo HWV7a
  • Handel: ‘I rage, I melt, I burn!’ – ‘O ruddier than the cherry’ from Acis and Galatea HWV49a
  • Handel: ‘O ruddier than the cherry’ from Acis and Galatea HWV49a
  • Handel: ‘Fra l’ombre e gl’orrori’ from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo HWV72
  • Handel: ‘If I give thee honour due’ – ‘Mirth, admit me of thy crew’ from L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato HWV55
  • Handel: ‘Qual’insolita luce’ – ‘Caddi, è ver’ from La Resurrezione HWV47
  • Handel: ‘Tears, such as tender fathers shed’ from Deborah HWV51
  • Handel: ‘To pow’r immortal my first thanks are due’ from Belshazzar HWV61
  • Handel: ‘Impari ognun da Orlando’ – ‘Sorge infausta una procella’ from Orlando HWV31
  • Handel: ‘Racks, gibbets, sword and fire’ from Theodora HWV68
  • Handel: ‘Volate più dei venti’ from Muzio Scevola HWV13
  • Handel: ‘Vieni, o cara’ from Agrippina HWV6
  • Handel: ‘Nel mondo e nell’abisso’ from Riccardo Primo, Re d’Inghilterra HWV23
  • Handel: ‘Mie piante correte’ – ‘Cara pianta’ from Apollo e Dafne HWV122
  • Handel: ‘Revenge, Timotheus cries’ from Alexander’s Feast HWV75
  • Handel: ‘Leave me, loathsome light’ from Semele HWV58

Press & Praise


Possessing in effect two voices in one – a ringing, incisive high baritone with a sonorous bass extension…Purves’s flair for specific characterisation enlivens every number on the disc…A counter…to the cliched notion that [Handel’s] bass arias are all undifferentiated bluster.”


“Purves is a fine vocal actor, and we’re continuously aware of the variety of Handel’s style and the sharpness of his characterisation. The great moments are those in which the singing reveals the depths of Handel’s psychological insight, above all in a scene from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, in which the monster Polifemo is suddenly shown to have immense nobility of soul.


“…one to treasure both for the sensitive and well-sustained singing of Christopher Purves and for the wonderfully wide expressive range of Handel’s music…Purves has an acute ear, serving well his intonation and lively feeling for characterisation…The pleasure of single-voice recitals can sometimes be tempered by repetitive mannerisms or exaggerated gestures. Purves avoids both, ensuring enjoyment.”

Album Details

  • Released December 2012
  • Hyperion Records | CDA67842
  • Recorded January 2012


  • Christopher Purves (Baritone)
  • Arcangelo
  • Jonathan Cohen (Direction)


Gramophone Awards

Finalist 2013

BBC Music Magazine Awards

Finalist 2014

Gramophone Magazine

Editor’s choice Jan 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Opera choice Feb 2013

Opera Magazine

Recording of the month May 2013

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