Listen to this for: a bit of everything: Handel, Porpora, Hasse, and lots of Broschi
This isn’t, strictly speaking, a countertenor album and, if I were to hear it for the first time now, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it; but it’s where I started and so I include it out of nostalgia. The voice you hear on this album isn’t purely that of a countertenor. It was created in 1993-94 using the digitally spliced voices of a countertenor (Derek Lee Ragin) for the lower registers and a female soprano (Ewa Mallas Godlewska) for the higher notes, in an effort to achieve the full breadth of Farinelli’s range. The result is beautiful but artificial; and we probably wouldn’t have to do that now, because we have singers who can tackle virtually the full range of these arias without digital tweaking (which is hugely exciting). But the music on this album is a perfect introduction to the countertenor repertoire: there’s a smashing mix of arias from Handel’s delicious Cara sposa to a treasure trove of Broschi. Broschi doesn’t get much love on the other albums I own, but he wrote some gorgeous pieces, often tailored for his talented brother Farinelli. Particular favourites are Broschi’s Son qual nave ch’ agitata and Ombra fedela anch’ io and Porpora’s Alto Giove (which everyone has recorded; it seems to be a countertenor rite of passage).