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.
Belshazzar (HWV 61) is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel. The libretto was by Charles Jennens, and Handel abridged it considerably. Jennens' libretto was based on the Biblical account of the fall of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus the Great and the subsequent freeing of the Jewish nation, as found in the Book of Daniel.
Handel composed Belshazzar in the late Summer of 1744 concurrently with Hercules, during a time that Winton Dean calls "the peak of Handel's creative life".The work premiered the following Lenten season on 27 March 1745 at the King's Theatre, London.The work fell into neglect after Handel's death, with revivals of the work occurring in the United Kingdom in 1847, 1848 and 1873.With the revival of interest in Baroque music and historically informed musical performance since the 1960s, Belsahzzar receives performances in concert form today and is also sometimes fully staged as an opera.
Celebrate the 250th anniversary of Handel's death with this impressive box set. 30-CD box set of the composer's most celebrated works–including the Royal Fireworks and Water Music, The Messiah, concerti grossi and much more! Featuring conductors Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Hogwood, Trevor Pinnock, Mark Minkowski and others. Performances by the Gabrielli Players, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, English Baroque Soloists and others.
Tamerlano is Handel's most dramatically convincing and musically appealing opera, in my opinion. It is a shame it is not as well known as some of his other works. This DVD is a well filmed and documented performance from the 2001 Handel Festival in Halle. The singing is for the most part excellent and the acting is appropriate to the subject, the music, and the visual concept. The costumes, borrowed from a spectacular Glimmerglass Opera production, add much visual interest (important since the stage setting is oddly sparce). One might quibble with some of the static nature of the staging (difficult to avoid in Baroque opera), and with the somewhat unmasculine singing and acting of Monica Bacelli in the role of the warrier Tamerlane, but overall this is a very satisfying performance. Thomas Randle gives a vocally and dramatically intense reading of the crucial role of Bajazet, and Elisabeth Norberg-Schulz and Anna Bonitatibus are tremendous. The "Score Plus" feature is nice, but it does NOT actually appear as a "subtitle" - it is superimposed over the screen. Useful if you want to watch portions of the score, but otherwise distracting. I highly recommend this DVD.Amazon.com
It's been conventional wisdom for several generations that Solomon, great oratorio though it may be, contains a lot of deadwood; conductors have regularly cut some items and changed the order of others. (Even John Eliot Gardiner's excellent recording cuts about 30 minutes of music.) Leave it to Paul McCreesh to give us the complete score–and demonstrate that Handel's original structure makes plenty of sense and that every number is worthwhile.
At last there is a Haydn Stabat mater within easy reach. The piece is seldom performed and even more rarely recorded, and this despite the fact that it contains some of the composer's most rich and deeply felt writing. One of the few works not written to order (Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy was less than keen on encouraging the sacred duties of his Kapellmeister) the Stabat mater is also one Haydn himself grew to respect highly, and Trevor Pinnock's performance makes it clear why.
Here we have the first recording of Handel's final Italian opera with a period instrument orchestra, chorus and a superb American cast. Deidamia was Handel's last opera. He began work on it in October, 1740, at the same time he was completing its companion work, Imeneo, which he had begun two years earlier. On November 8, Handel presented his London winter season - with some new works, some revivals - and for this purpose had engaged the Theatre Royal at Lincoln's Inn Fields. Opening night saw a semi-staged version of the serenata Il Parnasso in festa; later in the month came the premiere of Imeneo. Despite a superb score and fine cast, the production was a failure and was offered only once again in early December. The fact is that opera - Italian opera - was passe in London by this time. The public had turned to other musical delights - stage works in English of a more frivolous nature than Handel's offerings.
Sara Mingardo has been creating quite a stir in baroque circles but this is my first chance to catch up with her. In one sense she may be considered a "typical" baroque singer, in the sense that she uses a completely straight vocal production, from which vibrato has been rigorously excluded, and cultivates a somewhat plangent, nasal sound, with the result that a casual listener might suppose he was listening to a counter-tenor.