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Handel: Coronation Anthems / Marriner, Academy Of St. Martin In The Fields

Handel / Denley / Rodgers / Amf / Marriner
Release Date: 09/28/2010 
Label:  Newton Classics   Catalog #: 8802016   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Joan [Soprano Vocal] RodgersRobert DeanAlastair RossAnthony [Tenor Vocal] Rolfe Johnson,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the FieldsAcademy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 43 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

It would be hard to equal the panache and delicacy of these recordings.

Nowadays the British pride themselves on their ability to arrange great state occasions but that was not always the case. The coronation of George III in 1727 was marred by the existence of two running orders, and in particular some confusion as to the order in which the Anthems would be sung. In addition the performers were placed in two specially erected galleries separated by the altar which made coordination difficult. Despite this the anthems, especially Zadok the Priest, became popular and no Handelian’s library is complete without at least one recording of them.
 
The original performance was said to be by “40
Read more Voices, and about 160 violins, Trumpets, hautboys, Kettle-drums, and Bass’s proportionable”. I am not aware of any recordings which have attempted to emulate this, in particular the proportion of singers to orchestra, although there are several which use period instruments and male voices; it is, by the way, arguable that some women did sing at the original performance due to a shortage of boys in the Chapel Royal at that date. The present performances use modern instruments and a mixed voice choir. The number of performers is not given but the orchestra in particular does not sound to be anywhere near the size of that used at the original performance. Nonetheless what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in the sheer splendour of its sound and in the buoyancy of the rhythms. This is typical of the style of the Academy at that date, and even an enthusiast for period performance must admit that these performances do capture the scale, energy and imagination of these works to perfection. It is extraordinary to realise just how much expectations as to choral and solo singing have changed in the last twenty-five years but it would be hard to equal the panache and delicacy - as required - of this recording. The soloists do not have much to do but do it well. The only oddity is the very subdued playing of the whole of the introduction to Zadok the Priest but this does serve to emphasise the impact of the choir’s entry. The disc is completed with three short excerpts from “Judas Maccabaeus” which are enjoyable but make limited impact out of their original context.
 
All in all this is a very desirable reissue whose only fault is its very short length. The cover states that the total time is 60:00 but in fact it is just under 45 minutes. Personally I would regard this as a case where high quality outweighs small quantity but given the number of Academy recordings from this period that are currently unavailable it is a pity that more could not have been offered. I would nonetheless urge you to ignore this point and instead concentrate on the quality of the music and performances on offer here.
 
-- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International

Neville Marriner knew a thing or two about performing Handel, and this reissue from the 1980s makes a thrilling reminder of how he could direct a commanding performance of some of the, well, more “commanding” and impressively grand music Handel ever composed. His chorus and orchestra are in fine form throughout and it would be hard to find more committed renditions of these purposeful, still very concert-worthy works. And in that regard, besides the perennially popular single-movement Zadok the Priest, several movements from these pieces are commonly extracted for concert use, especially when particularly rousing, celebration-style music is required (although the decidedly more somber “Let justice and judgement” chorus from Let thy hand be strengthened delivers its own powerful impact—without flashy instrumentation and lively tempos). My only reservation concerns the sound, which lacks depth, favors a bright, treble thinness that just leaves you wishing for more body. Goodness knows the performances had it—the recording just didn’t capture it.

-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Coronation Anthems (4): no 1, HWV 258 "Zadok the priest" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Joan [Soprano Vocal] Rodgers (), Robert Dean (), Alastair Ross (Organ),
Anthony [Tenor Vocal] Rolfe Johnson (), Catherine Denley (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; London, England 
Date of Recording: 06/1984 
Venue:  St. John's, Smith Square, London 
Length: 5 Minutes 33 Secs. 
2.
Coronation Anthems (4): no 2, HWV 259 "Let thy hand be strengthened" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Anthony [Tenor Vocal] Rolfe Johnson (), Joan [Soprano Vocal] Rodgers (), Alastair Ross (Organ),
Robert Dean ()
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; London, England 
Date of Recording: 06/1984 
Venue:  St. John's, Smith Square, London 
Length: 8 Minutes 2 Secs. 
3.
Coronation Anthems (4): no 4, HWV 261 "My heart is inditing" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Robert Dean (), Alastair Ross (Organ), Anthony [Tenor Vocal] Rolfe Johnson (),
Joan [Soprano Vocal] Rodgers ()
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; London, England 
Date of Recording: 06/1984 
Venue:  St. John's, Smith Square, London 
Length: 10 Minutes 46 Secs. 
4.
Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63: See the conqu'ring hero comes by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Anthony [Tenor Vocal] Rolfe Johnson (), Robert Dean (), Alastair Ross (Organ),
Joan [Soprano Vocal] Rodgers ()
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747; London, England 
Date of Recording: 06/1984 
Venue:  St. John's, Smith Square, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 
5.
Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63: March by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Robert Dean (), Joan [Soprano Vocal] Rodgers (), Anthony [Tenor Vocal] Rolfe Johnson (),
Alastair Ross (Organ)
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747; London, England 
Date of Recording: 06/1984 
Venue:  St. John's, Smith Square, London 
Length: 1 Minutes 27 Secs. 
6.
Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63: Sing unto God by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alastair Ross (Organ), Joan [Soprano Vocal] Rodgers (), Anthony [Tenor Vocal] Rolfe Johnson (),
Robert Dean ()
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747; London, England 
Date of Recording: 06/1984 
Venue:  St. John's, Smith Square, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 55 Secs. 
7.
Coronation Anthems (4): no 3, HWV 260 "The king shall rejoice" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Alastair Ross (Organ), Anthony [Tenor Vocal] Rolfe Johnson (), Joan [Soprano Vocal] Rodgers (),
Robert Dean ()
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; London, England 
Date of Recording: 06/1984 
Venue:  St. John's, Smith Square, London 
Length: 10 Minutes 0 Secs. 

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