Alan Rich
June 19, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Baroque Duet

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Kathleen Battle, Wynton Marsalis
Producers
Sony Classical
genre
Classical

We gave it a C

If there is a more beguiling noise on earth than the sound of Kathleen Battle’s singing, it could be the plangent blare of Wynton Marsalis’ trumpet. Inevitably, the meeting of these two blithe spirits should result in a kind of sonic epiphany, with Marsalis making the easy crossover from his jazzman’s world to sit in on a clutch of 17th- and 18th-century arias for soprano and brass obbligato, and Battle scaling the vocal peaks of this daunting repertory with feathery ease. But such stirring, striding music as Handel’s ”Let the Bright Seraphim” and Alessandro Scarlatti’s ”Su le sponde del Tebro” come off in Battle’s versions merely as studies in pretty singing devoid of any stylistic identity. Battle hits the high notes with awesome accuracy, but the music itself lies out of her reach. On Baroque Duet, what little stylistic sense surfaces from this virtuoso pairing comes out of the 24-karat elegance of Marsalis’ golden trumpet. C

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