Australian-American lyric soprano Danielle de Niese is a name that has been cropping up for several years now on the Early Music scene. About a decade ago or so, Baroque music was quite a niche type of music, but I have noticed a growing trend that seems to indicate it is becoming more mainstream.
Even though it was released in 2011, Beauty of the Baroque was the first de Niese album I’ve ever bought, and in it she began with a great track: John Dowland’s highly erotic “Come again: sweet love doth now invite.” De Niese’s voice is strong and pleasing to hear, and there were some parts in which she sounded like historic music singer Sara Stowe – whose lovely voice often features in The Gift of Music CDs one finds in gift shops.
I first came across Danielle de Niese as a result of my being a fan of the French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. He performed with de Niese in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea. I have not yet been able to see the full work, (the DVD is on my wish list!) but the clips I have seen via YouTube were enough to make me seek out other works in which de Niese sings.
This album, which features The English Concert under Harry Bicket is lovely. The majority of the thirteen tracks on this album are the most popularly recorded, so for those of you who seek the more rare recordings, this is probably not for you. Purcell’s “When I am Laid in Earth” aka Dido’s Lament from Dido & Aeneas is a perfect example of this. I like hearing the same classic Baroque pieces from different artists because each singer and orchestra interprets a piece in their own way. This is what de Niese does in this album, she makes each piece her own and I loved it.
I must say, not only does she have an incredibly beautiful voice, the woman is simply stunning physically as well.
Track 3 is Handel’s Ombra mai fù, and I was impressed by de Niese’s take on this popular classic.
Track 4 is Let the Bright Seraphim, which I think most of us remember being sung by Kiri Te Kanawa at the 1981 Royal Wedding.
My favourite piece in this album is de Niese’s duet (Pur Ti Miro from Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea) with countertenor Andreas Scholl – I absolutely love his voice – and together, their voices combined to make a truly ethereal, gorgeous aural experience.
There were more 18th-century Baroque pieces in this album (from the likes of Handel, Pergolesi, and J.S. Bach), but the fact that de Niese also sings pieces from Dowland, Purcell, and Monteverdi make this an excellent album for 17th-century Baroque music lovers. I am very pleased to have this in my collection now.
You can follow Danielle de Niese on Twitter @danielledeniese
Update on the above: I was very happy to see Ms. de Niese read the above review and replied thus: