Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Aminta and Fillide
, cantata for two voices, strings and continuo. HWV83.
Gillian Fisher and Patrizia Kwella (sopranos)/London Handel Orchestra/Denys Darlow
Helios (Hyperion) CDH55077 [54.42]
 £5.99  AmazonUK  £6.99 AmazonUS

This recording was made in St Barnabas's Church, North Finchley in January 1984 and is a very classy production. Denys Darlow was one of the finest conductors of early music and this CD is a welcome reminder of that.

For its time (circa 1706) this cantata was original in many ways. Three hundred years on we can all say that it sounds very much like so much other music of its time and therefore is predictable. I have to confess that almost an hour's music with two voices and strings with little variation is somewhat tedious and requires more stamina than I can muster. But it has its moments. The depiction of cruel fate is beautifully written and the work seems to improve as it progresses. Sadly, human nature tends to want a really good beginning in order for any work of art in this form to be accepted.

If this work had a few choruses and more variety it would fare better. But, of course, we tend to assess all of Handel's choral and vocal works in the light of that supreme masterpiece, Messiah.

Would Handel have been more admired if he had written less and only his very great works were available?

But I have to comment on the performance.

To this end I must say that the two singers are superb. Whether one is espoused to the music or not the singers are very fine indeed. The purity of their voices, the splendid intonation and the secure high notes are worthy of our sincere admiration and, in my case, the performers have it. The orchestral accompaniment is very good as well with dedicated musicians and a conductor of first class status.

For Handel devotees this is a CD to have. For lovers of impeccable singing it is well worth having as well.

David Wright

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