Canadian soprano Bayrakdarian achieves gutsy Baroque experiment

Edmonton Journal (Alberta)
October 10, 2004 Sunday
Final Edition

Canadian soprano achieves gutsy Baroque experiment
by Bill Rankin, The Edmonton Journal

CD: Cleopatra

Artists: Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano, with Tafelmusik Baroque
Orchestra, led by Jeanne Lamon

Label: CBC Records

Rating: 5(of five)

Isabel Bayrakdarian has followed her Juno award-winning Azul–o with
a recording that should make her international reputation grow even

Taking arias from four German Baroque operas featuring the ancient
Egyptian power-broker and seductress Cleopatra, the Armenian-Canadian
soprano demonstrates an expressive ability that makes it no stretch
to use her name in the same breath as Cecilia Bartoli’s. If anything,
this CD reveals a confidence that makes such comparisons almost

Bayrakdarian delivers an effervescent melisma and defiant-sounding
attack in Carl Graun’s Tra le procelle assorto from 1742 Cleopatra e
Cesare. Tafelmusik generates a stunningly propulsive accompaniment.
The Toronto-based singer’s control of the precipitious Baroque
momentum is as

impressive as her wondrous vocalese talents.

She also takes some expressive risks, drawing hard breath and even
growling and theatrically sighing to create dramatic musical effects.

In quieter moments, as in Johann Mattheson’s 1704 Cleopatra (this is
a world-premiere recording of the excerpts), where it’s just singer
and continuo, Bayrakdarian reminds us of what a fine singer of
simple, moving melodies she is where ease of production and unadorned
presentation impress as much as any pyrotechnic display of roccoco

There isn’t a disappointing moment on this disc, and although the
repertoire is relatively obscure — there is some Handel from his
1724 Giulio Cesare in Egitto — the music contains all the typically
attractive Baroque features, and Tafelmusik knows its way around them
as well as any musicians.

Reviewed by Bill Rankin, Journal Culture Writer
From: Baghdasarian