- Alexander's Feast, ode for St. Cecilia's Day, HWV 75
Handel: Alexander's Feastby Richard Neville-Towle
Ludus Baroque, a festival chorus and orchestra made up of young performers who are specialists in Baroque, convene in Edinburgh twice a year to perform a major choral work by Handel or Bach. Under the leadership of Richard Neville-Towle, who founded the festival, the chorus and orchestra deliver a spirited performance of Handel's "Alexander's Feast," its first commercial recording. It's an appealing score, full of delightful surprises and colorful invention, and was one of the composer's most popular works during his lifetime. Ludus Baroque is a relatively small ensemble, with a chorus of 18 members (and an orchestra of 21), so they have more flexibility than a large chorus, and they sing with precision and discipline. When required to, they can produce a very large sound, as in "The many rend the skies with loud applause," which does in fact threaten to rend the skies in its volume. The orchestra, using period instruments, plays with fleet lightness and agility. Tenor Ed Lyon gets off to an unpromising start that's burdened with the stereotypical mannerisms of the worst of English oratorio singing -- no "r" left unrolled, precious and overly precise pronunciation, strained tone, and labored coloratura -- but he loosens up, and his aria "War, he sung, is toil and trouble," is fully effective. Sophie Bevan handles the soprano part with a silvery, elegant tone and is especially graceful in the lovely arias "The Prince, unable to conceal his pain," and "Thais led the way." Bass William Berger's part is small but he makes the most of it and his two martial arias are impressively powerful. The sound is generally clean, warm, well-balanced, and spacious. There are several inelegant edits, though, where a fraction of a beat gets added or removed, creating an annoying stutter that interrupts the flow of the performance.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsRichard Neville-Towle Primary Artist
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