A Very Fine Representative of the Older School
Virginia Opera Fan | Falls Church, VA USA | 02/18/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Congratulations are to to Alto for restoring this Theodora to the catalogue. For my money, only the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson rivals Heather Harper's achievement as the heroine doomed by her convictions. The recording also preserves excellent performances by Forrester (less hooty than often), Lehane (despite having no trill), and Young. The orchestra and chorus play and sing well and Somary's conducting is alive to the drama of the score. This is an older dispensation's concept of authentic Handel, using modern instruments, a larger chorus, and big voiced soloists. The resulting sound is colorful and transparent. Stylistic details, such as articulated bass lines and cadential trills, get their due.
Of the three recordings with which I'm familiar, I rank this second to McCreesh's excellent recording on Archiv. Despite the stellar account of the heroine by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, the McGegan recording on Harmonia Mundi is otherwise a pretty dull affiar. The conducting doesn't catch fire and the chorus often sounds like a high school glee club.
I've never felt the need to investigate the rival Christie effort despite good notices."