> HANDEL Coronation Anthems [KM]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Georg Friedrich HANDEL(1685-1759)
Coronation Anthems

Zadok the Priest
Zadok the Priest [01:50]
And all the people rejoic’d [00:46]
God save the King [02:47]
Let thy hand be strengthened

Let thy hand be strengthened [03:02]
Let justice and judgement [02:33]
Alleluia! [02:06]
The King shall rejoice

The King shall rejoice [02:44]
Exceeding glad shall he be [02:54]
Glory and worship [00:31]
Thou hast prevented him [02:15]
Alleluia! [02:46]
My heart is inditing

My heart is inditing [02:44]
Kings’ daughters [02:56]
Upon thy right hand [02:48]
Kings shall be thy nursing fathers [03:06]
Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne (Eternal source of light divine)

Eternal source of light divine RB (David Blackadder, trumpet) [03:17]
The day that gave great Anna birth RB [02:41]
Let all the wingèd race with joy SG [02:35]
Let flocks and herds their fear forget RB - [01:43]
The day that gave RB [00:39]
Let rolling streams their gladness show RB, MG [02:26]
Kind Health descends on downy wings SG, RB [04:29]
The day that gave great Anna birth SG, RB [01:46]
Let Envy then conceal her head MG [02:26]
United nations shall combine RB - [01:27]
The day that gave [01:51]
Susan Gritton, soprano
Robin Blaze, countertenor
Michael George, bass
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Academy of Ancient Music, Pavlo Beznosiuk
Alastair Ross, harpsichord continuo
Stephen Cleobury, conductor
Rec: January 2001, Kings’ College, Cambridge.
EMI 5 57140 2 [61.17]


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One of the uncontested Handel masters, and one of the finest conductors of choral music, Stephen Cleobury presents a new recording of some of Handel’s finest coronation anthems, together with the Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne. As in most of Cleobury’s Handel recordings, the star is the choir. With its rich, lush sound, this is grand choral music in the finest sense. The Alleluia of The King shall rejoice is one of those choral movements that sounds best with a huge choir, and here, the full, round sound of the choir is majestic.

Yet the choir can be light and airy as well, in Upon my right hand, from My heart is inditing. The opening of this movement shows the subtle textures that Cleobury can obtain from his choir, and the recording flatters the voices even more, with each individual voice clearly heard. The sound of this disc is almost perfect, even if, at the loudest points, it tends to become a bit blurry.

The music itself is quite straightforward, with most of the movements being simple strophic sections, some with the choir singing in canon, but the real joy of these pieces is the magnificent layers of texture that are developed. Handel certainly knew how to orchestrate his melodies for the fullest effect, and these regal anthems show off his musical pyrotechnics.

The Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne is a much more solemn piece, and takes up about half of this disc. With three soloists, this is more like a short oratorio. We are blessed with excellent singers for this piece, and Robin Blaze shines as he often does in this type of repertoire. Soprano Susan Gritton is excellent, her voice sounds ideal for this music as well, and she is rich in emotion and charm.

This excellent recording is full of joy and happiness, and is a delight to listen to. Handel’s coronation anthems are regal and grand, and the Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne is a varied work, which shows off three fine soloists.

Kirk McElhearn

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