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Christopher Hogwood & Academy of Ancient Music - Handel: Alceste; Comus (1989)

Classic | Author: SELMER | 23-04-2018, 11:04
Christopher Hogwood & Academy of Ancient Music - Handel: Alceste; Comus (1989)
Artist: Christopher Hogwood & Academy of Ancient Music
Title Of Album: Handel: Alceste; Comus
Year Of Release: 1989
Label: Decca Music / L'Oiseau-Lyre
Country: UK
Genre: Classical
Quality: FLAC (*image + .cue, log, scans)
Bitrate: Lossless
Time: 73:57
Full Size: 375 MB


01 Overture 5:42
02 Grand Entree 2:09
03 Ye Happy People 0:23
04 Triumph, Hymen, In The Pair 2:32
05 Still Caressing, And Caress'd 2:37
06 Ye Swift Minutes As Ye Fly 3:23
07 O Bless, Ye Powers Above 1:49
08 Gentle Morpheus, Son Of Night 7:20
09 Ye Fleeting Shades, I Come 4:27
10 Thrice Happy Who In Life Excel 1:52
11 Enjoy The Sweet Elysian Grove 5:45
12 Thrice Happy 1:51
13 Come Fancy, Empress Of The Brain 5:45
14 Symphony / He Comes, He Rises From Below 1:30
15 All Hail, Thou Mighty Son Of Jove! 2:15
16 Symphony 1:50
17 From High Olympus' Top 0:44
18 Tune Your Harps, All Ye Nine / First Dance 3:02
19 The Last Dance / Triumph, Thou Glorious Son Of Jove 2:05

20 There In Blissful Shades And Bow'rs 3:44
21 Happy, Happy, Happy Plains! 1:37
22 There Sweetest Flowers Of Mingled Hue 5:16
23 Happy, Happy, Happy Plains! 1:36
24 There Youthful Cupid, High Advanc'd 2:55
25 Happy, Happy, Happy Plains! 1:37

The events surrounding Handel's incidental music to Alceste are clouded in mystery. The play, ''a sort of Tragedy on the Story of Alceste'' as the author, Tobias Smollett called it, has never been recovered and moreover the performances due for early 1750 were unaccountably cancelled—despite large sums already expended to secure the best scenery, sets and actors. Handel's music, predictably, found its way into new projects for that year but the score of Alceste still gives us an insight into the role music played in the original conception, one not entirely dissimilar to the part Purcell's music played in English semi-operas a couple of generations earlier; none of the major protagonists sing but music is used to affirm the narrative or enhance the prevailing emotion. One such affecting moment, and one of Emma Kirkby's golden arias on record, is the first aria sung by the muse, Calliope. ''Gentle Morpheus'' is essentially an adopted Lullian sommeil in which this minor character appears to Admetus (Alceste's wife) in a notably cathartic dream, here transformed by the new Italian da capo mentality.

My initial reaction on returning to a recording which encapsulated so much of the pioneering spirit of the British 'period performance' movement is that the clarity of that new sound-world is still freshly communicated, as in the case with so many of Florilegium re-releases. Cynics might claim that a work such as this represents no more than a sort of musical Laura Ashley pattern where no real interpretative demands are made on the performers, hence a perfect canvas for all to shine in the early music milieu of 1979. I would say in response, that despite the distinctly undramatic nature of the music, the good judgement and gentleness of touch which went into these sessions resulted in a Handel record of distinction. So much for critics of baroque string playing—it is a delight throughout. In ''Come Fancy'' the articulation is engagingly light and contributes significantly to Hogwood's astute characterization. The singing, typical of so many releases of the time, is in some contexts a little undemonstrative and precious but in others revelatory. Handel's slight setting of the epilogue from Milton's masque is worth hearing but does not warrant repeated listening as do the many joys of Alceste. -- Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone

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