Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

CD REVIEW



Some items
to consider


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS

 

 

Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Scenes from Acis and Galatea - a masque in two acts HWV49 (c.1718)
Galatea – Joan Sutherland (soprano)
Acis – Peter Pears (tenor)
Damon – David Galliver (tenor)
Polyphemus  - Owen Brannigan (bass)
Thurston Dart (harpsichord continuo)
St Anthony Singers
Philomusica of London/Adrian Boult
rec. Watford Town Hall, June 1959
CHANDOS CHAN3147 [79:23]

 


First impressions: the box has a “distressed” look, its edges mottled, worn looking and yellowing, and so too the booklet with notes and English text, untranslated. The recording has been subjected to that process known as 24-bit/96 kHz digital remastering. And the whole shebang comes complete on one disc lasting just under eighty minutes. The 1959 recording was presided over by Adrian Boult and he had Thurston Dart as a harpsichord continuo player. I wish I knew who was the cello continuo from amongst the ranks of the Philomusica of London.

The cast boasts three outstanding performances and one singer’s name is printed in bigger type than any other musicians and that singer is Joan Sutherland, the Galatea. Her Acis is Peter Pears and the Polyphemus is stentorian Owen Brannigan. David Galliver is Damon.

At the helm then is Boult, who leads an intelligent, poised performance. His rhythms are pretty well sprung for the time though the recitatives are slow, indeed sometimes too inert for their own good. One feature that can’t escape note is the guillotining of a large number of da capo sections; this is unfortunate and unbalances arias especially with regard to the ritornello but it’s an unavoidable feature of the recording. Another is the excision of the small role of Coridon. The orchestra is clearly composed of some top-flight London professionals and they respond with alacrity to Boult’s direction. They’re especially good in the instrumental rusticities underpinning Galatea’s Hush, ye pretty warbling quire! The chorus however, the St Anthony Singers, are in unsettled voice; they’re rather woolly around the edges and make up in commitment what they lack in precision.

For most listeners however the core of the matter lies in the singing. At the summit stands Sutherland. Her trills in the aria just mentioned are magnificent and her elegance and razor sharp articulation ensure the smoothest of aural rides, with no bumps or vocal stalling. Hers is not necessarily the creamiest voice to have essayed the role, nor does she sound quite the maiden, but her As when the dove is lovely irrespective of voice type. Maybe her recitative ‘Tis done! Thus I exert my power divine is a touch too imperious but its command is undeniable. She matches Pears very rewardingly in their Act I duet Happy we, where sufficient care has been taken to ensure ensemble vitality. Now Pears is also not the first voice to come to mind in this role. Of his English antecedents Heddle Nash is the name that springs to mind, whose recordings of arias from the work were – and are – so captivating. Pears proves as notable a phraser of Handel’s melodic lines as his eminent predecessor. Love in her eyes sits playing is spun with delightful lyricism and ardour, breaths taken appositely, the line unbroken, registral complications all well surmounted. It’s really only the tightness of the voice that can limit unalloyed pleasure.  He certainly has the clarion edge for Love sounds th’alarm.

Owen Brannigan was a much-admired bass and he proves a worthy successor to such heavyweights as Peter Dawson and Malcolm McEarchen. He has the voice, the personality and the power of projection. His gifts of characterisation are to the fore here, but never over done. The divisions of O ruddier than the cherry are full of brio and in-character bluster.

The least well known of the quartet is the Damon of David Galliver. He has an attractive tenor voice, and from time to time sounds not unlike Heddle Nash, especially in the upper register of the voice – try Act I’s recitative Stay, shepherd, stay! Occasionally the line veers a little toward unsteadiness but it’s not a material problem.

The many more recent recordings of course, Gardiner’s prominently, address technical and stylistic matters rather more appropriately. But this Golden Age Acis is a splendid example of technical and lyric superiority in action.

Jonathan Woolf

 

 

 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.