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Max Emanuel Cencic - Wigmore Hall recital / theguardian

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For his Wigmore Hall recital with Armonia Atenea and its artistic director George Petrou, the cult Croatian countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic offered a programme of arias by Johann Adolph Hasse, of whose work he has long been a champion. A younger contemporary of Handel and Vivaldi, Hasse was immensely popular on the European mainland in the 18th century. His music fell out of fashion after his death in 1783, however. Cencic, whose musicological intelligence matches his glamour as a performer, has become something of a pioneer in its revival.

He proved himself a most persuasive advocate on this occasion, revealing Hasse to be an affecting melodist, though lacking Handel's immediacy and Vivaldi's innate sensuality. Cencic's voice is, of course, astonishingly beautiful, dark and handsome in tone, with no sense of strain at the top or of baritonal forcing in his lower registers. His exemplary breath control allowed him to unfold the long, sinewy lines of arias such as Se Volete, Eterni Dei from Arminio with exquisite poise. His coloratura dazzles, but is never self-consciously showy, and the big showstoppers such as Solca il Mar e nel Periglio from Tigrane were quite remarkable in their intensity.  READ THE FULL guardian REVIEW