Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 


REVIEW
RECORDING OF THE MONTH



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
Atoll
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
 

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline


John ECCLES (c.1668-1735)
The Judgment of Paris (1701) [49.37]
Restless in Thought disturbed in Mind (1695) [4.12] (1)
Love's but the frailty of the Mind (1700) [4.34] (2)
I burn, I burn, my Brain consumed to Ashes (1694) [3.26] (3)
Mercury – Roderick Williams (baritone); Paris – Benjamin Hulett (tenor); Juno – Susan Bickley (mezzo) (3); Pallas – Claire Booth (soprano) (2); Venus – Lucy Crowe (soprano) (1)
Chorus of Early Opera Company; Early Opera Company/Christian Curnyn
rec. 22-23 July 2008, All Saints Church, East Finchley, London
CHANDOS CHAN0759 [62.14] 
Experience Classicsonline


In 1701 Lord Halifax and a group of other notables organised a competition whereby a group of composers would set the same libretto and the results be judged. Their intention was to increase interest in through-composed English opera. The librettist was the playwright Congreve and the libretto was The Judgment of Paris.  Four composers (John Eccles, Daniel Purcell, Gottfried Finger and John Weldon) set the libretto and their operas were performed singly and then finally all together for the grand judgment.
 

John Eccles had worked with Henry Purcell and was responsible for the music at the Lincolns Inn Fields theatre and his setting of The Judgment of Paris was performed by a cast from Lincolns Inn Fields including Ann Bracegirdle as Venus. The Drury Lane and Dorset Gardens theatres used professional singers to provide the musical contributions and remained devoted to the semi-opera form familiar from Purcell's work. But at Lincolns Inn Fields, the actors sang as well so that Eccles was used to providing relatively strong and straight-forward music for singing actors. The best of his work is in the songs he wrote for the plays, three of which are on this disc. The Judgment of Paris is impressive; Eccles displays a flexibility of line and a limpid responsiveness to Congreve's strong libretto. 

In the late 1980s Antony Rooley and the Consort of Music performed Eccles setting of The Judgment of Paris along with those of Daniel Purcell and John Weldon at the Proms and the audience then voted for their favourite. This time Eccles won, but in 1701 Weldon was the winner with Eccles coming second. Weldon went on to drop theatre music and devote himself to sacred music. Finger came last and left England in disgust. 

Despite the Proms performance, Eccles' charming little opera has not had much exposure and it is heartening to find that Christian Curnyn and his Early Opera Group have been performing the work and have recorded it. 

Whilst Eccles does not display the brilliance that Purcell had in creating superbly memorable moments, he does have a nice turn in the characterisation needed for such a compact work. 

The piece opens with a symphony for Mercury. Then the god (Roderick Williams) informs Paris of his delightful task. Williams swaggers beautifully as Mercury. Paris (Benjamin Hulett) is a relatively small part but Hulett ensures that Paris feels like a cameo of a real character and not just a cypher. The three goddesses are nicely differentiated. Each is introduced by a symphony and an aria, then after Paris has declared how difficult his task is, each goddess makes a further appeal. 

The first goddess on the podium is Juno (Susan Bickley), who offers Paris worldly power. Bickley is rich-toned, believable and characterful as the queen of the gods. Second up is Pallas (Athene) sung by Claire Booth. She hymns the pleasures and delights of war. Booth is youthful sounding and eager, convincing as a young, enthusiastic goddess. The final one is for Venus and in the original Ann Bracegirdle must have been enchanting. On the disc, Curnyn has Lucy Crowe who is equally seductive as Venus. 

They are accompanied in fine style by Curnyn and the Early Opera Company, a relatively small group of just 22 players. They play using the low French baroque pitch and the orchestra uses no double-basses, just bass viols, which gives the band a warm feeling. 

The disc is completed with three songs from A Collection of Songs published in 1704. The three Mad Songs performed here were all written for the theatre; the genre of mad songs was popular at the time. Two of those recorded were written for Ann Bracegirdle. Restless in Thought comes from the anonymous play 'She Ventures, and He Wins' written in 1695. It was intended for Mary Hodgson, who would play Juno in The Judgment of Paris. Mrs. Bracegirdle sang Loves but the frailty of the mind in Congreve's 'The Way of the World' in 1700. Her encounter with I burn, I burn from D'Urfey's 'The Comical History of Don Quixote' led her to declare that she would sing music by no other composer. Here the songs are allocated to each of the three female singers, one each. And each displays a nice turn for Eccles's music. The songs are more character pieces than the opera, allowing them to perform with vividness.

This is a lovely disc. The Judgment of Paris is a piece of English operatic history, but more than that it is a forgotten gem which deserves to be rediscovered.

Robert Hugill

 
 


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.