Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|George Frideric Handel, Robert King, Susan Gritton|
Handel: L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato / Gritton, McFadden, L. Anderson, Agnew, N. Davies; King
Handel's oratorios may be loaded with wonderful music, but their librettos have tended to draw some sniping. It's true that some of them can be rather banal, but others are very impressive--the biblical texts Charles Jenn... more »
Handel's oratorios may be loaded with wonderful music, but their librettos have tended to draw some sniping. It's true that some of them can be rather banal, but others are very impressive--the biblical texts Charles Jennens assembled for Messiah and Israel in Egypt, for example, and John Dryden's ode Alexander's Feast. One particularly inspired idea Handel's colleagues had was to take excerpts from John Milton's poems "L'Allegro" (about the joys of sophisticated hedonism) and "Il Penseroso" (about the joys of contemplative solitude) and interweave them to make a sort of musical debate. At Handel's request, Jennens wrote a concluding section titled "Il Moderato," which unites the two opposing temperaments under the guidance of "Sweet Temp'rance." The result is one of Handel's most colorful scores, with such treats as a robust aria with hunting horns, a laughter chorus, a gentle duet for soprano and cello, and arias and choruses with featured parts for trumpets, organ, and even the tinkling bells of a carillon. Not to mention "Sweet bird," one of the very greatest "birdsong" arias, in which a flute imitates a bird and a soprano imitates the flute. How odd, then, that this is only the second recording of L'Allegro in 20 years. Luckily, it's a good one. Conductor Robert King and his orchestra and choir do their work well, certainly, but it's the soloists who make this performance special. Lorna Anderson does a lovely "Sweet bird" with a particularly good trill; soprano Susan Gritton sounds sweeter and more eloquent than ever; and the fabulous tenor Paul Agnew uses an amazing range of tone colors, from angelic purity to intimidating harshness. All in all, this L'Allegro is good enough to silence any grumbling about what took Hyperion so long to record it. --Matthew Westphal
Rush to buy L'Allegro
David Cloke | London | 04/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is music that makes you feel glad to be alive - is there any composer better at expressing joy than Handel? This piece is all about the multi-faceted joys to be experienced - of the hunt(CD1, 16), the carnival (CD1, 23), solitude (CD1, 8,9), the theatre (CD2, 2,9) and the beauty of the night (CD2, 24). It is also a wonderful, perhaps unsurpassed, evocation of pre-industrial England. The singing is almost always first rate and Robert King seems to have shaken off the slightly restrained demeanor of some of his earlier Handel recordings and perhaps as a consequence the King's Consort and Choir are inspired. If you are unconvinced listen to the gorgeous duet at the end of part 3, possibly the best Handel ever wrote, and the sheer verve of the tenor air and chorus, 'These delights if though canst give'."
Izolda | North Haven, CT United States | 03/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is really a feast for Handelians, beautifully played and sung. The earlier recording of this oratorio, made by Gardiner in the 80-ties, is not only incomplete but also less impressively executed. It is wonderful to have both sets, but this new one from Robert King brings much more life to this splendid music. It is one of my desert island discs!"
Beauty, grace and joy
KC | London, England | 02/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A wonderful performance of a beautiful piece. Good taste personified! In a complete and uncut studio recording. Robert King is served by excellent orchestral playing and strong singers. Susan Gritton's singing is wonderful. I can find nothing to fault and everything to commend. Buy it!