Trevor Pinnock's performances of the four Coronation Anthems originally appeared alone on a single disc, but here they have acquired some company in the form of the concertos that Handel arranged from some music for multip... more »le choruses (hence the titles of the works, "for two choruses"). The performances have always been prime recommendations for period instrument versions of this music, and they still are. --David Hurwitz« less
Trevor Pinnock's performances of the four Coronation Anthems originally appeared alone on a single disc, but here they have acquired some company in the form of the concertos that Handel arranged from some music for multiple choruses (hence the titles of the works, "for two choruses"). The performances have always been prime recommendations for period instrument versions of this music, and they still are. --David Hurwitz
Mark Swinton | 01/20/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A most thoughtful presentation of masterpieces by Handel, one of England's greatest ever composers. First of all, it is good to have all four of his coronation anthems together on one recording- many choirs offer yet another "Zadok the Priest" or "The King Shall Rejoice", but we seldom get them all in order. The Westminster Abbey Choir, here recorded after the appointment of Simon Preston in 1981, bring a most refreshing edge to the unmistakable tone of period instruments (indeed, I bought this disc partly to see what things sounded like at the Abbey before Martin Neary, and I am impressed). Preston's stirring account of the anthems is matched by Trevor Pinnock's direction (from the harpsichord) in the concerti grossi, where there is yet more masterful writing made all the richer by the Baroque orchestral. Wagner said of Handel, "he is the master of us all." Truer words could never have been spoken, and this CD is the proof of it."
FAMILIAR AND LESS FAMILIAR
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 03/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When it comes to being hard to please in a performance of Handel's Zadok I couldn't easily rebut a charge of being the fusspot to end all fusspots. First, the tempo at the start must not be too slow, and that knocks out Leppard so far as I am concerned. It should measure out the steps of the monarch pacing up the aisle of Westminster Abbey. Secondly for me, the rising 4-note phrases should break perceptibly into two pairs each. This does wonders for the tension and sense of climax. Thirdly there should be a big crescendo in the last bars before the chorus enters, and I am filled with limitless dismay when Pritchard, in a mainly unexceptionable set of the four coronation anthems, actually perpetrates a diminuendo. Preston scores triumphantly on all counts, so am I satisfied now? Not quite. I want a more spacious acoustic. Short as it is, and properly given by small forces, Zadok the Priest is huge in its impact. This is a performance by the choir of Westminster Abbey and it could have done with being recorded there in the presence of a congregation.That said, the remastered sound from these performances from 1982 and 1985 is completely admirable. Just on its own it would put paid to any competition from the Pritchard set with the Huddersfield Choral Society, respectable though that is. In any case the actual execution from the Westminster group is distinctly better, particularly as regards the choral work in which the `Oodersfield choir are no match at all for their Westminster rivals. The four anthems are given in the order Zadok, The King Shall Rejoice, My Heart Is Inditing and finally Let Thy Hand, and Donald Burrows discusses the issue of their proper order briefly in his part of the liner note. For me it is no real issue at all, and obviously the virtue of cd technology is that they can be sequenced as any listener prefers. In every single respect but the acoustic right at the beginning I award full marks plus to this account of the anthems.The `concertos for two choirs' deserve to be a lot better known especially now that there are horn-players in abundance who are equal to the startling technical difficulty of their parts. What the term denotes is that there are two small wind bands, used antiphonally for the most part, in addition to the main string band. In total there are three concertos of this type, and nos 2 and 3, the two with the horn parts, are provided here. The note on these works is contributed by Stanley Sadie, and based on the evidence that Dr Sadie provides, it certainly seems likely that these concertos were intended, like the organ concertos and the opus 6 concerti grossi, for performance in the intervals of the composer's oratorios. # 3 seems fairly clearly to have been given with Judas Maccabaeus, and my goodness if the horn-players were up to it what an impact it must have made! As regards # 2, the two candidates appear to be Joshua and Alexander Balus, nobody seems to be very clear which. One way or another I am certainly pleased that scholarly opinion now inclines towards the view that the works were publicly performed in Handel's lifetime, indeed in his personal presence. # 3 may be mainly an original composition - Sadie is not aware of most of their musical material elsewhere. # 2 is, as he rightly says, a bit of a puzzle. The material is all reworked stuff, but what exactly was Handel's game? It includes a slightly tweaked instrumental transcription of Lift Up Your Heads, which most of the audience would have recognised instantly, but the first two movements apparently come from Esther, 30 years previously. Neither as a pot-pourri of well-known numbers nor as an attempt to pass off old lamps as new does it make any consistent sense. From a historical point of view the issue is absorbing, from a musical point of view two and a half centuries on it doesn't amount to a row of haricots. These concertos have the potential to be as popular as the Brandenburgs and I for one would happily trade a hundred performances of the familiar Vivaldi efforts for just one of these. The performances, directed by Pinnock, are simply superb, the horn-playing in particular being thrilling, with that particular frisson that comes from appreciating the whiff of danger that goes with it. Any Handelian ought to have this set. For the as yet unconverted there is something waiting that they could do with getting to know. I have another fine set of all three concertos by Leppard and the ECO, but this wins outright at all points."
Music to please a thousand Kings.
Mark Swinton | 03/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All I have to say is WOW! I cannot believe how beautiful these anthems are! They are so beautiful, and take me back to the actuall coronation ceremony of King George II! The music is always beautiful. The Concerti a due cori is also performed very well by the English concert with Trevor Pinnock. Of the four coronation anthems, "My heart is inditing" and "Zadok the Priest", the queens anthems, are my favorite. These two are absolutely beautiful. "My heart is inditing" starts off in such a beautiful manner, soloists with the chorus, and underneath it, is a beautiul motif with the accomp. It is beautiful, and "Zadok the Preist" with its great 1:00 intro. is flawless. About the performers, the orchestra, is very good in handling the beautiful phrases that Handel had set out for them. The Chorus is also good, although I think that the use of Treble's is not a really welcomed idea. The soloists are also good. The Concerti a due cori are performed very well, although the "Judas Maccebeus" concerto is performed a little under tempi. Buy this recording, if you want great music, great performers, and want to be a king/queen for 40 minutes!"
A truely royal rendition of these marvellous works
Mark Swinton | 06/14/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The precision and lucidity which one would expect of the Westminster Abbey Choir coupled with the stylish flair of Trevor Pinnock and his English Concert make this disc not only one of the best renditions of the coronation anthems, but a CD which should grace every Classical Music lover's record collection. It is exciting to hear recordings of other of the anthems than just 'Zadok the Priest'. I found 'My heart is inditing' refreshing and dynamic."
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 04/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"NOT MY PREFERENCE, BUT A GOOD RECORDING NONE THE LESS
The coronation service for King George II and his consort Queen Caroline at Westminster Abbey on October 11, 1727, was an occasion of great magnificence as was the music Handel provided for the ceremonies. The composer William Boyce looked back on the 1727 service as the scene of the 'first Grand Musical Performance'.
'Zadok the Priest' was the proper anthem for the Anointing, and 'My Heart is inditing' was specific to the coronation of the Queen. According to the order of service, 'The King Shall Rejoice' should have been performed at the Recognition, but Handel chose to have it done at the Crowning. Trumpets and timpani were taken from the main body of performers for this part of the ceremony, with the result that 'Let Thy Hand be strengthened' did not include these instruments.
The two 'Concerti a due cori' (concertos for two instrumental choirs) are in fact, for three groups of instruments: a string band, and two winds; one each of two oboes, bassoon and two horns.
This disc is very excellently put together by Trevor Pinnock, but I do have some personal critiques to make: I thought that in the first two anthems the percussion (tympani) and brass were much to heavy upon the entrance of the choir; so much so that the balance was tilted in favor of the instruments resulting in not being able to comprehend the words of the anthems. In the 2nd anthem 'The King shall rejoice' the tempo was a bit fast for word sense; one misses much of the inner interest of the anthem. In the final two anthems 'My Heart is inditing' and Let they hand be strengthened' the instruments were fewer and lighter in accompaniment and were much to my liking!
Both of the instrumental concerti were well played; I much preferred the first to the second; it was much more interesting and not so repetitive. All things considered, it's really a good recording. But I still prefer the King's College Choir 1982 recording under the direction of Sir Philip Ledger. "