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Santa Cecilia - Purcell, Handel, Haydn

Release Date: 05/19/2009 
Label:  Erato   Catalog #: 66356   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Henry PurcellGeorge Frideric HandelFranz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Michael GeorgeNeil JenkinsPaul ElliottRichard Wistreich,   ... 
Conductor:  Andrew ParrottSir Philip LedgerMichel Corboz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner ConsortTaverner PlayersEnglish Chamber Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Handel shares his anniversary year with two other composers who hold a prominent place in the musical pantheon, Henry Purcell (born 1659) and Josef Haydn (died 1809). This boxed set from Virgin Classics (3 CDs for the price of 1!) unites these three masters with a work by each of them in honor of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music.

R E V I E W S:

Although I recently welcomed Paul McCreesh's vital and robust account of Hail, bright Cecilia as the best available account of the marvellous celebratory ode, the reappearance of Andrew Parrott's 1985 version puts a slightly different complexion on things – though in an entirely positive way. Whilst McCreesh makes the score sparkle with his energetic view of tempos,
Read more vocal characterization and orchestral timbre, Parrott parades his smooth and integrated forces with less instant theatricality. Instead we have here a typically homogeneous and unfolding scenario: how organically and gently '''Tis Nature's voice'' emerges, with Rogers Covey-Crump expressing the passions with a wonderful air of mystery. So too, ''Soul of the world'' – what a transcendent concluding passage – which has never been bettered for atmosphere and clarity of ensemble. The solo singing here is good (there is some exquisite work from Emma Kirkby and from tenors Charles Daniels and Paul Elliott in ''In vain the am'rous flute'') but it is the delicacy of sentiment which complements McCreesh's more effervescent and lush reading.

-- Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone [12/1995, reviewing the original CD release of the Parrott Hail, bright Cecilia, Virgin 545160]


This is Handel at his very best, and I must withdraw my remark last November that only the first 10 minutes are not... [On this disc] the movement sounds delightful. Also the initial impact of the new recording is more agreeable, partly because of the better accoustics of King's College Chapel and partly because I do have days when, I must confess, I prefer modern instruments to 'old' ones. Ledger gets consistently beautiful playing from the English Chamber Orchestra—stylish and lively—and though once or twice I'd have liked more violins at choral climaxes, the smallness of the band is in general fully justified... Unlike last year's recording the new one has a second soprano soloist, and this is because Ledger includes the duet and chorus Handel tacked on at the end to make a comparatively short work a bit longer. The words come from a St Cecilia's Day ode of 1720 by Newburgh Hamilton, and they are poor things compared to Dryden's. However the duet is extremely pretty, and Helen Donath and Sally Burgess sing it enchantingly.

-- Gramophone [10/1979, reviewing the original LP release of the Ledger Alexander's Feast, HMV SLS5168]

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Works on This Recording

Hail, bright Cecilia, Z 328 "Ode on St Cecilia's Day" by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Michael George (Bass), Neil Jenkins (Tenor), Paul Elliott (Tenor),
Richard Wistreich (Bass), Simon Grant (Bass), Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor),
Kevin Smith (Countertenor), Andrew King (Tenor), Charles Daniels (Tenor),
David Thomas (Bass), Michael Chance (Countertenor), Emma Kirkby (Soprano),
Roger Woolley (Organ)
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1692; England 
Alexander's Feast, HWV 75 "Ode for St Cecilia's Day" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Sally Burgess (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Tear (Tenor), Thomas Allen (Baritone),
Helen Donath (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1736; London, England 
Missa Cellensis in honorem, H 22 no 5 "Cäcilienmesse" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Michel Corboz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gulbenkian Foundation Symphony Orchestra Lisbon,  Gulbenkian Foundation Chorus Lisbon
Period: Classical 
Written: 1766; Eszterhazá, Hungary 

Featured Sound Samples

Hail, bright Cecilia "Ode on St. Cecilia's Day" (Purcell): I. Symphony
Alexander's Feast "Ode for St. Cecilia's Day" (Handel): Part I: Chorus: "The many rend the skies"

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