Soloists, Le Concert d'Astrée/Haïm(Virgin Classics)
Galas are usually more fun to attend than to listen to after the event, but this celebration of the 10th anniversary of Emmanuelle Haïm's lively French ensemble is a baroque blast. Capturing the greatest hits of a now popular repertory, she attracts the big stars to enjoy their party pieces, from Rameau and Lully through to Purcell and Handel. Natalie Dessay stops the show with a Cleopatra aria from Handel's Giulio Cesare, Anne Sofie von Otter is Rameau's Phèdre, Patricia Petibon and Sonya Yoncheva both dazzle in the stratosphere, and even Rolando Villazón pops in for Tamerlano. English sensibilities will applaud the audience joining in the Hallelujah chorus, though they might draw the line at "Sound the trumpet" as a cue for a free-for-all jam session. But it's all very stylish fun.
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