Ju­lia Lezh­neva

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - PLAYLIST - — Joshua Kosman

Clas­si­cal

The de­but recital disc by the Rus­sian so­prano Ju­lia Lezh­neva two years ago, a col­lec­tion of Baroque selections aptly ti­tled “Al­leluia,” sug­gested the ar­rival of a for­mi­da­ble vo­cal tal­ent, one blessed with a dis­tinc­tive com­bi­na­tion of tech­ni­cal bril­liance, tonal el­e­gance and ex­pres­sive di­rect­ness. This fol­low-up re­lease, though per­haps not quite as daz­zling, con­firms that im­pres­sion. This time around, Lezh­neva has con­cen­trated her fo­cus on Han­del, specif­i­cally the mu­sic from his early so­journ in Italy. The selections are drawn from or­a­to­rios and such early op­eras as “Ro­drigo” and “Agrip­pina” — mu­sic that shows the com­poser cre­at­ing the ex­pres­sive lex­i­con that would shape his ma­ture the­atri­cal mas­ter­pieces — and it’s won­der­fully con­ge­nial to Lezh­neva’s bright, fervid sound and fe­ro­cious mas­tery of col­oratura. There’s even an en­chant­ing bit of sa­cred mu­sic, a set­ting of “Salve Regina,” that com­bines rev­er­ence with the­atri­cal panache. Gio­vanni Antonini and the pe­riod en­sem­ble Il Giardino Ar­mon­ico pro­vide vi­va­cious ac­com­pa­ni­ments.

JU­LIA LEZH­NEVA HAN­DEL ARIAS IL GIARDINO AR­MON­ICO; GIO­VANNI ANTONINI DECCA $18.99

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