„… the release of a special audiophile treat. It is not without reason that French critics have just awarded the choir the ‘Diapason d’or’ prize.“ (K Int’l)
From bar one, I felt an assurance and naturalness about the rhythms, a clarity and tonal richness in the orchestral and vocal texture, a stylishness of phrasing and embellishment, and a sheer zest and power of dramatic presentation that add up to a totally convincing and gripping whole. […] Neumann and his team have excelled themselves, and so has Handel, and anyone who thinks 18th-century music wanting in musico-dramatic force is urged to acquire this magnificent set without delay.
…Against the competition, this new German recording rates very high. It is certainly superior to Harnoncourt's heavily cut and somewhat mannered Teldec reissue.
Little by little, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (1740) is gaining recognition as one of Handel's masterpieces. The idea of interleaving passages from John Milton's twinned poems delineating two extremes of human temperament clearly inspired the composer; the actual literary work was done initially by James Harris and amended by Charles Jennens. The composer also had Jennens pen a final section praising the integration of "Mirth" and "Melancholy" into "Moderation."
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), He cast his concertos - almost a hundred are known to exist - in the traditional form of the four-movement suite (slow-fast-slow-fast), but also used the three-movement form established by Vivaldi. Although the slow movements disclose a greater degree of originality, the fast ones are more effective. In some of Telemann's concertos, the character of the themes and the structure of the movements point beyond the Baroque style to the early Classical period (e.g. the last movement of the Concerto for Oboe d'amore). The distinctive harmonies of some of the parts also underscore Telemann's opinion that, although the possibilities of melodic invention may become exhausted, it is always possible to vary the harmony.
“[These suites] have rarely been recorded or promoted by harpsichordists during the most recent revival of interest in ‘early music.’” I realize that Richard Egarr is entitled to his own opinions—his liner notes on an earlier release, for example, likened the humor in Purcell’s harpsichord music to that of the wonderful old 1950s BBC comedy The Goon Show —but he’s not entitled to his own facts. Christopher Brodersen pointed out in a 2011 review of these works featuring Laurence Cummings ( Fanfare 34:5) that ArkivMusic listed nine complete sets played on the harpsichord, with several others on the piano. I find some of the suites have considerably more recordings than that, in 2014: 26 for the Suite in A Major, 28 for the Suite in D Minor, 25 for the Suite in E Minor, 47 for the Suite in E Major. If such numbers reflect rare recordings, I have to wonder what Egarr would consider a moderate number, let alone a frequent one.
Classical music is one of the greatest joys in life. Opera on the other hand, is often too melodramatic to stomach. But there is nothing more enchanting than an Aria. On this 2 CD set, Emma Kirkby sings in sweet exultation. Her voice expresses power and agility yet a limpid tranquility. Clarity is the greatest achievement of any musician. With the aid of precision accompaniment on period instruments, shameless perfection is delivered. She soothes the soul longing for beauty. Her marvelous Soprano is rendered on 25 tracks in this eclectic ensemble. If you are a champion of Handel or a devotee of Mozart, you should not hesitate to purchase this CD. Emma Kirkby will have you beaming with delight and pining for more. Surely it will be one of the brightest of your collection.