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Gemini - Handel: Solomon, Love In Bath / Beecham, Et Al


Release Date: 05/24/2005 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 86516   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Lois MarshallAlexander YoungElsie MorisonJohn [baritone (50s)] Cameron,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic OrchestraBeecham Choral Society
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 31 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is the kind of recording that instantly raises the hackles of that formidable vigilante squad, the self-proclaimed Defenders of Baroque Authenticity. Beecham’s edition of Solomon shamelessly cuts away a good deal of the piece, reassigns the countertenor part to a baritone, re-orchestrates and revises the work. Of course, he was doing all this at a time when original Baroque instruments were largely in private collections, the public’s appreciation of rambling plots and lengthy, unknown oratorios was questionable, and countertenors were as rare as cherry trees in suburban subdivisions named after them. It might even be said that by presenting a work filled with some of the most exquisite love music ever written, Beecham was flouting the Read more expectations of an audience used to regarding Handel as an Anglican pastor rather than a great dramatist. No matter. What might have been defensible in the 1950s should be tacitly ignored, today. Or so we are told, by people whose conviction and zeal speak well for the vitality of religious belief in the 21st century.

There’s no question that—however one defines Baroque performance practice, and there are numerous, contradictory though current definitions—Beecham’s Handel recordings are dated. But to my mind this doesn’t invalidate Solomon as great listening, or as a hybrid composition of considerable worth. Let’s call it Handel-Beecham, to stop the protests; it has, in any case, a broader, richer emotional canvas and a surer sense of theater than quite a few Handel opera and oratorio productions I’ve seen on stage or heard on CD in recent years. Not all, surely. A sense of moderation seems to be settling into some quarters, among them at least a few music schools and university departments, with febrile tempos giving way to a less eternally nervy approach. The results are more conducive to expressing less forceful emotions such as contentment, rapt tenderness, and melancholy; and it may not be too far fetched to credit Beecham in some measure for this re-evaluation. Certainly, those Handel recordings of his remain, and Solomon, with its warmth and intimacy, is an example of great performance for all that it falls short by contemporary research standards. The Royal Philharmonic is an excellent instrument upon which Beecham plays with his customary assuredness, and Alexander Young supplies elaborate, effective coloratura at a time when such a grace was never expected of tenors. All four soloists are attractively steeped in the British oratorio tradition, which favors clarity and tone over emotional indulgence.

Love in Bath will prove less controversial, if only because it is a Beecham ballet built of selections from various Handel works. Many such ballets drawing upon the obscure music of earlier composers have appeared, notably during the first half of the 20th century. This one, to my mind, is among the finest. It demonstrates what a fine Handel scholar Beecham was, taking arias and movements from a host of once unknown operas and orchestral pieces; and it reveals his sure hand with structure, his wit, and his refined taste. It is perhaps the largest and best lollipop, to use Beecham’s own expression, that he ever gave us all.

The sound is a bit shrill and lacking in fullness in Solomon. I recommend a slight cut to the treble. With good if brief notes, this release is highly recommended.

Barry Brenesal, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1. Solomon, HWV 67 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Lois Marshall (Soprano), Alexander Young (Tenor), Elsie Morison (Soprano),
John [baritone (50s)] Cameron (Baritone)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1749; London, England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio 1, London, England 
Length: 103 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Sir Thomas Beecham.
EMI Abbey Road Studio 1, London, England (11/1955 - 05/1956) 
2. Love in Bath by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Ilse Hollweg (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Length: 47 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Sir Thomas Beecham.
EMI Abbey Road Studio 1, London, England (11/1956 - 12/1956); EMI Abbey Road Studio 1, London, England (03/1957 - 04/1957); EMI Abbey Road Studio 1, London, England (08/1959 - 11/1959) 

Sound Samples

Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Overture
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Double Chorus: Your harps & cymbals sound
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative: Almighty Power, who rul'st the earth & skies
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Double Chorus: With pious heart & holy tongue
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative: Imperial Solomon, thy prayers are heard
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Air: Sacred raptures cheer my breast
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative: Blest be the Lord
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Air: What though I trace each herb & flower
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Air: Bless'd be the day
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative: Thou fair inhabitant of Nile
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Duet: Welcome as the dawn of day
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Air: With thee the unsheltered moor I'd tread
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Chorus: May no rash intruder disturb their soft hours
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Sinfonia
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative: From Arabia's spicy shores
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Air: Ev'ry sight these eyes behold
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Solo & Chorus: Music, spread thy voice around
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Air & Chorus: Now a diff'rent measure try
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative & Chorus: Then, at once, from rage remove
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Chorus: Thus rolling surges rise
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative: Thy harmony's divine, great King!
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Chorus: From the censer curling rise
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Chorus: From the East unto to the West
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative: Thrice happy King!
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Air: Golden columns, fair & bright
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Air: Beneath the vine
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative: Gold is now common
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Air: How green our fertile pastures look
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Chorus: Swell the full chorus to Solomon's praise
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative: May peace in Salem ever dwell
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Air: Will the sun forget to streak
Solomon (2005 Digital Remaster): Recitative: Double chorus: Praise the Lord
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): The Pump Room (Parnasso in Festa)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Beau Nash (Rodrigo)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): The Linleys (Parnasso in Festa)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Hunting Scene
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Love Scene (Il Pastor Fido)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): The Quarrel (Il Pastor Fido)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): The Pump Room: reprise (Parnasso in Festa)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): The Plot
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): The Weary Flunkies
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): The Exquisites: madrigal (Parnasso in Festa)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Second Love Scene (Rodrigo)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): March
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Sarabande
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Minuet (Il Pastor Fido)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Hornpipe (Il Pastor Fido)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Rondeau (Ariodante)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Gigue (Rodrigo)
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): March: reprise
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Interlude
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): Serenade
Love in Bath (1990 Digital Remaster): The Elopement / Discovery - Finale

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