Handel: Alexander's Feast

Handel: Alexander's Feast

by Richard Neville-Towle

CD(Jewel Case)

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Overview

Handel: Alexander's Feast

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.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/14/2011
Label: Delphian
UPC: 0801918340949
catalogNumber: 34094
Rank: 212673

Tracks

  1. Alexander's Feast, ode for St. Cecilia's Day, HWV 75

    1. Part 1. Ouverture  (05:38)
    2. Part 2. Recitative and Chorus. Now strike the golden Lyre again  (03:02)
    3. Part 1. Recitative. 'Twas at the royal feast  (00:50)
    4. Part 2. Air. Revenge, Timotheus cries  (07:43)
    5. Part 1. Air and Chorus. Happy, happy, happy pair!  (04:34)
    6. Part 2. Recitative. Give the vengeance due  (01:12)
    7. Part 1. Recitative. Timotheus, plac'd on high  (00:54)
    8. Part 2. Air. The princes applaud with a furious joy  (02:17)
    9. Part 1. Recitative. The song began from Jove  (01:13)
    10. Part 2. Air and Chorus. Thais led the way  (04:59)
    11. Part 1. Chorus. The list'ning crowd admire the lofty sound  (02:08)
    12. Part 2. Recitative. Thus, long ago  (00:43)
    13. Part 1. Air. With ravish'd ears the monarch hears  (03:15)
    14. Part 2. Grand Chorus. At last divine Cecilia came  (02:58)
    15. Part 1. Recitative. The praise of Bacchus  (00:34)
    16. Part 2. Recitative. Let old Timotheus yield the prize  (00:22)
    17. Part 1. Air. Bacchus, ever fair and young  (04:32)
    18. Part 2. Chorus. Let old Timotheus yield the prize  (03:33)
    19. Part 1. Recitative. Sooth'd with the sound, the king grew vain  (00:42)
    20. Part 2. Chorus. Your voices tune, and raise them high  (02:49)
    21. Part 1. Recitative. He chose a mournful Muse  (01:14)
    22. Part 1. Air. He sung Darius, great and good  (03:00)
    23. Part 1. Recitative. With downcast looks the joyless victor sate  (00:47)
    24. Part 1. Chorus. Behold Darius great and good  (02:20)
    25. Part 1. Recitative. The mighty master smil'd to see  (00:26)
    26. Part 1. Arioso. Softly sweet in Lydian measures  (03:01)
    27. Part 1. Air. War, he sung, is toil and trouble  (04:45)
    28. Part 1. Chorus. The many rend the skies with loud applause  (03:34)
    29. Part 1. Air. The prince, unable to conceal his pain  (09:21)

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