While it isn't Handel's most obscure opera (hum a few bars from Catone, anyone?), Siroe, Re di Persia is definitely on the margins. It's hard to say why exactly, although the unflatteringly edited Metastasio libretto (by Nicola Haym) is surely part of the reason; the character and conflict development of the original are largely missing from the version Handel set. But the music is Handel at his best, and let's face it: from the perspective of a modern listener, plot is not the main draw of opera seria. With that in mind, Harmonia Mundi's complete recording, with Andreas Spering and the Cappella Coloniensis, is an excellent first step toward giving Siroe wider exposure. It's well played, thoughtfully conducted, and it features an excellent trio of leading ladies.
Oscar Alemán is one of the great unknown talents in jazz history. A brilliant guitarist who sounded very close to Django Reinhardt at times, Alemán was overshadowed in Europe by Reinhardt in the 1930s and spent much of the rest of his career in his native Argentina, remaining well known only in that country. This 1998 double CD from Dave Grisman's Acoustic Disc label has highlights from Alemán's career, including the eight selections he recorded during his three European sessions of 1938-1939, plus music from 1941-1947 and 1951-1954. Although the settings varied (including a sextet with violinist Svend Asmussen, a nonet, and two unaccompanied guitar solos), Alemán's basic swing style stayed the same, retaining its enthusiasm and creativity and remaining unaffected by bop. Sticking throughout to acoustic guitar and taking an occasional good-time vocal, Alemán is heard in peak form. He deserves to be much better known. A definitive two-fer from a major talent.