£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

alternatively
CD: Crotchet

 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685 Ė 1759)
Ode for St. Ceciliaís Day, HWV 76 (1739) [44.21]
Concerto for Organ No. 13, HWV 295 (1739) [12.11]
Zadok the Priest, HWV 258 (1727) [4.59]
Julia Gooding (soprano) (Ode)
Jeremy Ovenden (tenor) (Ode)
Francesco Cera (organ) (Concerto)
Coro della Radio Svizzera (Ode, Zadok)
I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis
rec. 10-13 March 2005 (Ode), 28 April 2008 (Concerto), 1 June 2005 (Zadok) Auditorium RSI, Lugano, Switzerland
ARTS 47739-8 [61.35]
Experience Classicsonline

In 1683 a group called ĎThe Musical Societyí held a public concert on 22 November celebrating St. Cecilia. This became an annual celebration until 1703, after which the tradition lapsed. During this time Purcell wrote two odes - for the 1683 and 1684 celebrations. The poet John Dryden produced two poems which were set to music, for the 1687 and 1697 events. The first was A Song for St. Ceciliaís Day, set to music by Draghi and the second was Alexanderís Feast, set to music by Jeremiah Clarke.
 
By the time Handel arrived in London these St. Cecilia celebrations had lapsed. However for a reason unknown, in 1711 he wrote an Italian cantata Splenda líalba in oriente which seems to have made reference to St. Cecilia. Then in 1736 he set Drydenís ode Alexanderís Feast which he performed as part of his concert series, where his English language works were by now well established. The first performance of Alexanderís Feast was padded out with concertos and an Italian cantata devoted to St. Cecilia. The performance of the ode was very successful and it was published in full score; which probably indicates that Handel had no intention of performing it again.
 
The following seasons Handel devoted to Italian opera then in 1739 he revived Alexanderís Feast as part of a season of oratorios. For its 1739 outing Alexanderís Feast was paired with a setting of Drydenís shorter St. Cecilia Ode. The soloists were La Francesina, soprano Elisabeth du Parc, who sang much of Handelís oratorios and John Beard, the distinguished tenor whose career was intimately linked to Handelís performances and for whom Handel wrote the title role in Samson.
 
Though the concert was repeated, Handel never again paired the two Cecilian odes. Probably the combination was just too much for people to take. Instead he revived the Ode for St. Ceciliaís Day in tandem with other works.
 
The opening and closing phrases of Drydenís Ode deal with the birth and death of the universe. Those in the middle praise the various musical instruments. With its references to the Ďtuneful voice of Godí, the text places St. Cecilia in a distinctly subservient role. The all-encompassing subject matter proved a suitable challenge for Handelís talent.
 
This new recording comes from the Swiss group, I Barocchisti, under their conductor Diego Fasolis. As soon as disc opens we are treated to a crisp and lively account of Handelís fine overture - he was so pleased with it, he turned it into a Concerto Grosso. The groupís performance is vivid and lively without ever sounding rushed, you want to hear what comes next.
 
Unfortunately what comes next is not quite on the same level as the overture, despite some sterling support from the instrumental ensemble. Soprano Julia Gooding must have been having something of an off day as her usually limpid tones sound strained, particularly at the top of the voice. This is music which needs to sound relaxed and effortless - and here it simply doesnít. The tenor soloist, Jeremy Ovenden, is in slightly more reliable form but his tone tends to be rather sharp and pinched. His performance is satisfactory, but certainly is not redolent of one of the greatest tenors of the age, as John Beard was.
 
The Coro della Radio Svizzera acquit themselves admirably, especially as they are singing in English. Granted though that their English sounds rather occluded and their diction is rather muffled. As is often the case with foreign choirs they simply do not make enough of the words. After all this is Englandís finest (adopted) composer setting one of Englandís greatest poets. Surely the intention would be that the words were comprehensible. This is a performance which does not quite live up to its opening promise.
 
The Ode is accompanied by a Handelís organ concerto: No. 13 HWV 295, ĎThe Cuckoo and the Nightingaleí and the Coronation Anthem Zadok the Priest.
 
For the organ concerto the soloist is Francesco Cera who seems to be a member of I Barocchisti. No mention is made of the type of organ which he is playing, but it sounds to be quite a small scale one. This performance is attractive and lively but I would have liked the organ to be slightly more spot-lit, perhaps even a little louder. As it was, there were passages where Cera could almost have been playing a rather lively continuo part. Perhaps it all comes down to bravura, something which Ceraís discreet playing lacks and which Handelís playing certainly had in spades.
 
Zadok the Priest is a sure-fire hit and proves a fine conclusion to the disc. The Coro della Radio Svizzera prove to be entirely at ease with Handelís style and sing with attractive firmness of tone, clarity of line and crisp rhythm. My only complaint is that their opening entry sounded rather too loud compared to the orchestra.
 
The CD contains a booklet essay and biographies but no text, which is unfortunate as Drydenís text is fascinating. You really need it in front of you when listening to the disc, especially when dealing with such lines as ĎThen hot and cold, and moist and dry / In order to their stations leapí.
 
If I was looking for a recommended recording of the St. Cecilia Ode then I would be tempted to suggest Robert Kingís version on Hyperion with Carolyn Sampson in radiant form. Appropriately King pairs the ode with the Italian cantata Cecilia, volgi un sguargo which Handel included in the first performance of Alexanderís Feast.
 
It is heartening to see Handelís English works making their way amongst non-English speaking groups. If this disc does not quite live up to its opening promise, itís certainly good enough to make me look forward to the groupís next offering.
 
Robert Hugill
 


 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

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


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 


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.