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



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
 

Buy through MusicWeb
for £12 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Acis and Galatea (1743 arr. 1828-29, Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1848)
Jeni Bern (soprano) – Galatea
Benjamin Hulett (tenor) - Acis
Nathan Vale (tenor) - Damon
Brindley Sherratt (bass) – Polyphemus
Christ Church Cathedral Choir
Oxford Philomusica/Stephen Darlington
rec. February 2012, St. Michael’s and All Angels, Summertown, Oxford
Text included
NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6201 [75:36]

Experience Classicsonline


 
In 1828 Felix Mendelssohn was asked by his composition teacher Carl Friedrich Zelter to produce a re-scored version of Handel’s Acis and Galatea, as well as the Dettingen Te Deum. Mendelssohn, then 19, was still a student at university in Berlin and finished the job very early in the New Year of 1829. According to his sister Fanny, this was work he needed to produce to secure Zelter’s agreement for Mendelssohn to revive the St. Matthew Passion.
 
The score was returned to Fanny in 1831 and there appears to be no record of Acis ever having been performed, though the Te Deum was. The first known performance was in fact given in England, in London, by conductor Joseph Barnby in 1869, since when long neglect has shrouded Mendelssohn’s work. Mozart’s earlier re-clothing was preferred, Mendelssohn’s generally being forgotten.
 
Mendelssohn rescored the work for a typical orchestra of his own time. He also added trumpets and timpani and wrote a part for the ‘corno inglese di basso’ — a type of serpent, which in this recording is replaced by a contrabassoon. The stage is set, then, for a bulked- out, proto-Beechamised, pseudo-Harty romanticised curio: just my cup of tea.
 
In fact, this is a perfectly legitimate look at one composer reshaping the work of a predecessor in the light of prevailing aesthetic taste. It’s also great fun. It’s respectful of the original, adding signs of Mendelssohn’s subtle orchestral palette, and the work comes up both recognisable and yet subtly translated.
 
The most radical rewrite is reserved for the overture, and thereafter one notices the apposite coiling wind writing, the expansion of the string section — especially noticeable and effective in support of the duet Happy we — and the sturdily clever use of added brass in Love sounds th’alarm. Such details illuminate the score throughout, and so too does the use of solo cello in Galatea’s lament Must I my Acis still bemoan to which the chorus’s answer is: no.
 
All these points would be interesting, even illuminating but if the performance were dull, there would be less point stressing them. Fortunately this is a crisp, insightful production, sensitively directed by Stephen Darlington, well played by the Oxford Philomusica and sung with incision and, where necessary, drama by Christ Church Cathedral Choir.
 
Galatea is Jeni Bern, pure of voice and true of intonation. Rather saucily she pants softly at 4:25 in her first aria, Hush, ye pretty warbling choir where she is very audibly being afflicted with ‘fierce desire’. Clearly she wants Acis in more than just her sight. However, what’s happened to Jeni Bern’s consonants in the very first statement of that first aria; she doesn’t sing ‘pretty warbling choir’ she sings a very Scottish ‘pre-warbling choir’. She sings it perfectly straight after. Strange.
 
There are few things more disastrous in this work than to sport two identikit tenors for the roles of Acis and Damon, the shepherd. Thankfully they are well differentiated. Benjamin Hulett is Acis, and his tone is most attractive whilst there’s more of an Arcadian fragility about Nathan Vale’s shepherd — a question of characterisation, not technique, let me hasten to add, as he’s an excellent musician too. It’s a question, too, of how much of a sap your Acis is going to be. When Hulett sings Love in her eyes sits playing he does so with wonder, not lust. Since Galatea’s eyes are shedding delicious death in an Elizabethan sense that I think we all understand, one can assume that Hulett thinks Acis more a love-struck pup. Back in the 1930s and 40s when they recorded this aria, tenors like Heddle Nash and Walter Widdop were made of more virile stuff. Polyphemus is Brindley Sherratt: no posturing or pantomimic stuff — just core tone, and real character, powerfully rolled consonants and real presence. The chorus is youthfully incisive, and responds to Darlington’s doubtless clear instructions adeptly. A case in point: listen out for the brusque staccati mirroring Polyphemus’s massively striding arrival, each word punched out and detonated with explosive awe.
 
It’s been a most enjoyable experience to encounter this old friend newly clothed. The whole enterprise has been carried out with considerable accomplishment.
 
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by John Sheppard (November RECORDING OF THE MONTH)
 
.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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






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.