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Handel Collection
     

The Handel Collection

 
The Sony label seems to be betting it can set a new recycling record with these many-times-reissued Handel performances, which go back as far as 1960. Handel's big choruses stand up to being done by the likes of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Royal Philharmonic

Overview

The Sony label seems to be betting it can set a new recycling record with these many-times-reissued Handel performances, which go back as far as 1960. Handel's big choruses stand up to being done by the likes of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Royal Philharmonic Chorus heard here (the latter in the "Hallelujah" chorus), for they were meant as big public spectacles. The listener new to Handel should know, however, that he worked with an ensemble perhaps one-fifth the size of the Philadelphia Orchestra that plays a suite from the "Water Music" here. There's nothing really wrong with performances like these, aside from the fact that the LP sound hasn't made a very successful transition to CD, but the music on the album seems to have been thrown together with no real concept in mind; it even includes a German aria, "Dank sei dir, Herr" (the comma is in the wrong place in the track list, giving one an idea of the care lavished on this project), that Handel did not compose. The track list even says so. Greatest-hits albums of this kind are inevitable and even desirable ways of drawing new listeners to classical music's top composers, but they need to be put together with the same attention any other release would receive, and that hasn't happened here. If you are one of those new listeners, be aware that Decca's two-disc Essential Handel set is a better choice. Better still is to take one work -- the "Ode for St. Cecilia's Day," perhaps, with its apocalyptic vision -- and get to know it thoroughly.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
This 2009 compilation from Sony Classical of George Frederick Handel's greatest hits is comparable in many ways to the older Columbia album of the same name, for a number of the selections are the same and some of the artists are common to both compilations. Yet the modern listener to Handel may find that the lush mid-twentieth century arrangements by the likes of Eugene Ormandy and Richard Kapp -- or the extreme case of Eugene Goossens' bombastic over-orchestration of the "Hallelujah" chorus from "Messiah" -- don't quite sit well when more historically informed, scholarly, and vital performances of this music are available. Most listeners, even those new to Handel's music, are likely to find this album a bit thick in orchestration, ponderous in tempo, and sluggish in feeling, all of which may make listening a joyless chore. Add to this the flat, almost airless tone of many of these recordings, which date between 1960 and 1995, and the whole seems to be considerably less than the sum of its parts. In order to appreciate the fire and brilliance of Handel's music, the beginner is better off investing in a good recording of "Water Music" and "Music for the Royal Fireworks" on period instruments, or to get acquainted with the operas and oratorios on their own terms, rather than as murkily played excerpts. In some cases, greatest-hits compilations provide a worthwhile service to newcomers to classical music, but this Handel Greatest Hits is unnecessarily dull and discouraging, and therefore more likely to drive people away than interest them.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/27/2006
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0828768524220
catalogNumber:
685242

Tracks

  1. Solomon, oratorio, HWV 67: Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
  2. Water Music Suite No.1 for orchestra in F major, HWV 348: Allegro
  3. Water Music Suite No.1 for orchestra in F major, HWV 348: Andante espressivo
  4. Water Music Suite No.1 for orchestra in F major, HWV 348: Air
  5. Water Music Suite No.1 for orchestra in F major, HWV 348: Bourrée
  6. Water Music Suite No.1 for orchestra in F major, HWV 348: Hornpipe
  7. Water Music Suite No.1 for orchestra in F major, HWV 348: Allegro deciso
  8. Serse (Xerxes), opera, HWV 40: Largo "Ombra mai fu"
  9. Music for the Royal Fireworks, for orchestra, HWV 351: La Réjouissance. Allegro (excerpt)
  10. Music for the Royal Fireworks, for orchestra, HWV 351: Menuet 1 (excerpt)
  11. Music for the Royal Fireworks, for orchestra, HWV 351: Menuet 2 (excerpt)
  12. Suite for keyboard (Suite de piece), Vol.1, No.5 in E major ("The Harmonious Blacksmith"), HWV 430
  13. Samson, oratorio, HWV 57: Let the Bright Seraphim
  14. Suite for keyboard (Suite de piece), Vol.2, No.4 in D minor, HWV 437: Sarabande
  15. Dank Sei Dir, Herr (spurious)
  16. Giulio Cesare in Egitto, opera, HWV 17: Piangero, piangero
  17. Giulio Cesare in Egitto, opera, HWV 17: Dove, dove, inumani... Son nata a lagrimar
  18. Te Deum (Dettingen) for soloists, chorus & orchestra in D major, HWV 283: Vouchsafe, O Lord
  19. Judas Maccabaeus, oratorio, HWV 63: See, the Conqu'ring Hero Come
  20. Judas Maccabaeus, oratorio, HWV 63: Sound an Alarm
  21. Judas Maccabaeus, oratorio, HWV 63: Hallelujah, Amen
  22. Samson, oratorio, HWV 57: Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound
  23. Semele, oratorio, HWV 58: Where E'er You Walk
  24. Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne (Eternal Source of Light Divine), HWV 74: Eternal Source of Light Divine
  25. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: "Hallelujah" Chorus

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