wed 19/05/2021

Handel

Messiah highlights, English National Opera, BBC Two review – short-cut sorrow and redemption

Well, it wasn’t quite Messiah, but it was a source of joy. In ENO’s end-of-lockdown staging, BBC Two’s transmission of Handel’s resurrection song delivered a scant 54 minutes of music from the Coliseum on Easter Saturday. In contrast, two ancient...

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Iestyn Davies, Arcangelo, Wigmore Hall review - heavenly Handel as the lights dim again

Just before the doors closed again on live audiences at the Wigmore Hall, Iestyn Davies and members of the Arcangelo ensemble celebrated the private side of a very public composer. The peerless counter-tenor, whose powerfully polished command of...

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Ariodante, Royal Opera online review – stylish, but confined

“After black and gloomy night, the sun shines all the brighter,” sings hero Ariodante after a life-threatening bout of jealousy nearly scuppers a royal wedding. There’s a snag in Handel’s dramaturgy: all that sunshine in preparation for the nuptials...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Handel, Pärt

 Bach: St Matthew Passion The Choir of King’s College Cambridge, Academy of Ancient Music/Sir Stephen Cleobury (King’s College Cambridge)Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki (BIS)Both Masaaki Suzuki and the late lamented Sir Stephen Cleobury...

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Susanna, Royal Opera/London Handel Festival review - fitful shinings

That virtue can be fascinating and prayers to a just God dramatic have been proved in riveting productions of two late Handel oratorios, Theodora and Jephtha. Whether Susanna can ever be reclaimed for the stage as powerfully seems unlikely, but this...

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Acis and Galatea, The Sixteen, Christophers, Cadogan Hall review – pocket-sized pastoral pleasures

Nymphs and shepherds – go away? In music, as in art or literature, the pastoral fripperies of the Baroque age can feel utterly alien to modern tastes. Those dalliances, seductions and abductions in the Arcadian landscapes of myth may cease to entice...

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Les Arts Florissants, Christie, Agnew, Barbican review – splendid Baroque knees-up

“How many times have you heard the conductor sing?” asked William Christie after the final number, but before the two encores, of Sunday night’s 40th birthday celebration for his ensemble Les Arts Florissants. Well, lovers of old recordings know...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Donnacha Dennehy, Handel, Strauss

 Donnacha Dennehy: The Hunger Alarm Will Sound/Alan Pierson, with Katherine Manley and Iarla Ó Lionáird (Nonesuch)The Great Irish Famine of 1845-1852 resulted in the deaths of one million Irish citizens to starvation and prompted a further...

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Brockes-Passion, Arcangelo, Cohen, Wigmore Hall review – hybrid Handel

Handel’s Brockes-Passion is a curious piece - sacred but not liturgical, and with a strong influence from opera, though it is a concert work. Solo voices predominate, and the singers assembled at Wigmore Hall were mostly fine. Jonathan Cohen and his...

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Agrippina, Royal Opera review - carry on up the Campidoglio

It was said of the Venetian audiences randy for the satirical antique of Handel's first great operatic cornucopia in 1709 that "a stranger who should have seen the manner in which they were affected, would have imagined they were all distracted"....

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Prom 55: Jephtha, SCO & Chorus, Egarr review - shock of the new in sacrificial oratorio

Human sacrifice has a disconcerting and wonderful effect upon great composers, above all when it involves the supremely queasy issue of a father vowing to offer up his child: think of Britten with Abraham and Isaac, Mozart with Idomeneo and Idamante...

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Belshazzar, The Grange Festival review – songs of freedom

Cut almost anywhere into the lesser-known seams of Handel’s oratorios and you may strike plentiful nuggets of the purest gold. It may not be quite the case that Handel's Belshazzar, its score studded with nearly-forgotten musical treasures, has...

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