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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

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Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Largo from Xerxes (Ombra mai fu) HWV40 [3:34]
Waft Her, Angels, through the Skies from Jephtha HWV70 [4:19]
Lascia ch'io pianga (Let me lament) from Rinaldo, HWV7 [4:19]
Courante from Keyboard Suite No. 1 in A major, HWV246 [3:36]
Silent Worship ('Non lo dirò col labbro', from Tolomeo, re di Egitto, HWV25) arranged Arthur Somervell [2;12]
The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon, HWV67 arranged Walsh [3:12]
Air from Water Music Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV348 [3:53]
V'adoro pupille (O eyes, I adore you) from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV17
arr. Beon Passacaille [6:01]
Pifa (Pastoral Symphony) from Messiah, HWV56 [3:16]
O Sleep, Why Dost Thou Leave Me? from Semele HWV58 [3:06]
Where’er You Walk from Semele HWV58 [3:38]
Minuet I and II from the Water Music Suite No.3 in G major HWV350 [3:20]
Verdi, parati selve amene from Alcina HWV34 [2:48]
Air in B flat major HWV470 [1:52]
I Know that my Redeemer Liveth from Messiah HWV56 [6:32]
Cavatina; Quando mai spietata sorte from Radamisto HWV12 [2:44]
Largo from Xerxes (Ombra mai fu) HWV40 [2:42]
Mauro GIULIANI (1781-1829)
Variations on a Theme by Handel “Harmonious Blacksmith”Op.107 (excerpt only) [1:16]
West Australian Symphony Orchestra/David Measham
Kirsten Barry (baroque oboe)/Australian Brandenburg Orchestra/Paul Dyer
Yvonne Kenny (soprano)/ Australian Brandenburg Orchestra/Paul Dyer
David Stanhope (piano)
David Hobson (tenor)/Sinfonia Australis/Antony Walker
Guitar Trek
Queensland Orchestra/Ola Rudner
Marshall McGuire (harp)
Sinfonia Australis/Guy Noble
Slava Grigoryan (guitar)
Howard Oberg (descant recorder)/Australian Brandenburg Orchestra/Paul Dyer
Graham Pushee (counter tenor)/Australian Brandenburg Orchestra/Paul Dyer
John O’Donnell (organ)
Sara Macliver (soprano)/Orchestra of the Antipodes/Antony Walker
Jamie Hey (cello): Kirsten Barry (oboe)/Australian Brandenburg Orchestra/Paul Dyer
No recording details
ABC CLASSICS ABC 476 9421 [67:05]


ABC Classics has recently released a number of taster discs devoted to some big name composers, of which this Handel disc forms a part. They’re not exactly commonplace compilations, containing as they do a cunning amount of variety leavened with alternately big name and rising stars of the Australian firmament. In the former category of stars resides Yvonne Kenny and in the latter tenor David Hobson. All the contributions here are culled from existing discs so repackaging and rebranding is the name of the game.

Entry-level for this disc is therefore that of the avowed non-specialist. And someone finding his way into the repertoire will find that the disc covers a reasonable amount of ground – solo instrumental, orchestral, oratorio, operatic and the like – though not always in the most expected way. The Queen of Sheba for instance arrives courtesy of a guitar quartet. Wafting Angels is via the oboe not an expected tenor. Arrangements leaven the predictable with a certain amount of Antipodean tang.

So for instance Tim Beon has arranged the Passacaglia from the Harpsichord Suite in G minor for solo harp. Collectors will know the famous arrangement by Halvorsen for violin and viola, but the Beon ripples away nicely enough – an emollient to Halvorsen’s pugilistic masculinity. We also get the brief Giuliani guitar reworking of the theme of the Harmonious Blacksmith, all 1:16 of it. Elsewhere things are par for the course with no outlandish arrangements, simply extracted and conventional performances from the ABC catalogue.

This isn’t the place for detailed criticism but I still don’t like Kenny’s ornaments in Lascia ch'io pianga. I listened to her performance of it in her Handel disc from which this is extracted and the only thing I can say in my defence is that I’m at least consistent in my dislike. Tenor David Hobson essays Silent Worship, the Arthur Somervell adapatation of  Non lo dirò col labbro from Tolomeo. I’ve actually not heard anyone do this in English since Heddle Nash though the notes say that Ewan McGregor sang it in the film Emma to Gwyneth Paltrow’s filmic accompaniment. Since I saw the film this is very worrying and I need to eat more greens, obviously. Hobson has a very light lyric tenor and he sings this with tripping grace but not an ounce of Nash’s romantic ardour. Sara Macliver has a boyish soprano in her Messiah. The orchestral and other instrumental extracts are all pleasantly if unevenly done.

But I’m still not quite sure at whom this kind of compilation is aimed, apart from a newcomer to classical music. Maybe, in expanding appreciation of Handel’s compositional breadth, it also offers some pointers to the range of the ABC catalogue.

Jonathan Woolf   

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