The magnificent Christopher Purves performs a recital of Handel’s bass arias. This unique collection demonstrates the range and brilliance of Handel’s writing for this voice, featuring a selection from Italian and English operas, English classical drama, Biblical oratorios, literary odes and a masque. Handel’s endlessly imaginative gift for characterization is fully explored here, with Purves commanding an extraordinary emotional and technical range from the buffo blustering of Polyphemus in Acis and Gatalea to the loving musings of Abinoam in ‘Tears, such as tender fathers shed’ from the oratorio Deborah.
Muzio Scevola ("Mucius Scaevola", HWV 13) is an opera seria in three acts about Gaius Mucius Scaevola. The Italian-language libretto was by Paolo Antonio Rolli, adapted from a text by Silvio Stampiglia. The music for the first act was composed by Filippo Amadei, the second act by Giovanni Bononcini, and the third by George Frideric Handel. Collaborations of groups of composers were common in the 18th century, though this is the only one done in London. Bononcini had written the music for two earlier treatments of this story on his own, works dating from 1695 and 1710. The opera's initial run of performances began at the King's Theatre in London on 15 April 1721. A part of the second act and the third part composed by Händel is documented on the production of new port Classic being here.
Despite the use of period instruments, including some fine blaring natural horns, this couldn't be called a historically informed performance of Handel's Royal Fireworks Music, HWV 351. The work was not composed for a pleasant onboard afternoon musicale like the Water Music, but instead was part of an event that would have been one of the top items on CNN Headline News for 1749: the celebration of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, brokered by King George II.
This disc brings together recordings made in the 1980's as part of a reduction of three original discs down to two. At the same time, the original fine recordings have been remastered to good effect with added depth and space. This makes a particularly important improvement to the Coronation Anthems which previously came over as sonically lacking ideal breadth, depth and recorded weight in Zadok. The ears adjusted after that.