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Handel (Arr. Mendelssohn), Haydn, Cherubini / McGegan, Gottingen Festival Orchestra

Handel / Ndr Chor / Festspiel Orch / Mcgegan
Release Date: 02/09/2010 
Label:  Carus   Catalog #: 83358  
Composer:  George Frideric HandelFranz Joseph HaydnLuigi Cherubini
Performer:  Colin AinsworthDominique LabelleThomas CooleyWilliam Berger
Conductor:  Nicholas McGegan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio ChorusGöttingen Festival Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

Three dramatic works performed with precision and commitment. Almost every drop of expression is extracted by Nicholas McGegan.


HANDEL Dettingen Te Deum (arr. Mendelssohn 1 ). HAYDN The Storm. CHERUBINI Chant Read more sur la mort de Joseph Haydn 2 Nicholas McGegan, cond; NDR Ch; Göttingen Fest O (period instruments); 1 William Berger (bar); 2 Dominique Labelle (sop); Thomas Cooley, Colin Ainsworth (ten) CARUS 83.358 (63:52 Text and Translation) Live: Hannover-Herrenhausen 6/5–6/2009

During his short lifetime, Mendelssohn made arrangements of three of Handel’s works. In the past year we have had recordings of his arrangements of Acis and Galatea (see the review in Fanfare 32:5) and Israel in Egypt ( Fanfare 33:2). Nicholas McGegan, who conducted the Acis and Galatea recording, now brings us the third arrangement, of the Dettingen Te Deum . Mendelssohn’s arrangement mostly consists of adding flute, clarinet, and horn parts to some numbers, mainly accompanying the vocal and instrumental parts at the same pitch or at the octave. Occasionally, instruments are changed, such as the opening ritornello of “Tag für Tag” (Day by Day), where the trumpet is replaced by violins and flute, with the trumpet reserved for entry after the first vocal section. In some numbers trumpet and timpani parts are added, such as in the chorus “Und Cherubim und Seraphim” (To Thee Cherubim and Seraphim). Unlike his other arrangements, the Te Deum, translated into German, is performed without cuts. The added instruments do no violence to Handel’s work. Their effect is fairly subtle, but Handel’s brilliant work doesn’t really need any help. To me this amounts to gilding the lily.

The performance is a very good one. McGegan is, of course, a very experienced Handel conductor. His pacing is exemplary. The orchestra and chorus are both sizeable enough to do justice to the work. Because many of the choruses are in five parts (two soprano lines), the mixed chorus numbers 17/9/7/7, allowing the sopranos to make the proper effect when they are divided. Both orchestra and chorus are excellent. William Berger, the baritone soloist, has a strong voice; he sings his sometimes florid music with ease and beauty of tone. The alto solos are given to the chorus.

Haydn’s The Storm was written for a concert in London in 1792. It depicts a nighttime storm with flashes of lightening and roaring wind, ending with a prayer for the return of calm. Haydn was obviously inspired by the lines from an English poem he was given to set, and the music reminds me somewhat of The Creation . McGegan and his forces expertly express the terror and hope depicted in Haydn’s work. The Storm has been recorded once before, on a Meridian disc conducted by Denis McCaldin and paired with two Haydn masses. Next to McGegan, McCaldin’s performance sounds feeble, lacking the numbers in both orchestra and chorus to do the work justice. McCaldin also performs the work about a minute faster than McGegan, making less of an effect.

Cherubini’s Dirge on the Death of Joseph Haydn was written in 1805 upon a false rumor that Haydn had died. It was put aside when the truth became known but was eventually performed in February 1810, nine months after Haydn’s death. The work consists of an orchestral introduction, recitative, and trio. Soloists and orchestra are again exemplary under MeGegan’s inspired direction. There are no competing recordings.

The enclosed booklet provides full notes in German, English, and French. However, the production seems to be aimed mainly at a German audience. The texts of the Handel and Haydn works are given in German and English; the French of Cherubini’s cantata is given only a German translation.

The Cherubini and Mendelssohn’s Handel arrangement are not otherwise available. The strong performances of all three works make this disc an easy recommendation for anyone looking to collect these works.

FANFARE: Ron Salemi


This CD contains three loosely connected works.

First, Mendelssohn's version of one of Handel's most striking - not to say spectacular - settings of the Te Deum: that composed during the Austrian War of Succession and first performed in 1743. Because it reflected the victory of the allies (including England: at Dettingen am Main), the Dettinger Te Deum quickly became established as a high-powered ceremonial piece; and later as a staple of the English choral tradition. Mendelssohn's version added parts for flute, clarinet and horn; it was first performed almost a century later, in 1831.

In fact, Mendelssohn took up this work not on one of his journeys to Britain, but while in Berlin. The thicker texture applied by the later composer perhaps distils some of the impact that we're used to in this work. Some of its allusion to glory and splendour are maybe lost. But the level of playing and singing merit close attention nevertheless: it never descends to the pedestrian. McGegan, Wiliam Berger and the Festspiel Orchester of Göttingen with the NDR Chor make out a convincing case for Mendelssohn's arrangement.

Haydn, on the other hand, was commissioned by Solomon in London in the early 1790s to set part of an English text, 'To My Candle' by John Walcot (1738-1819), as The Storm. Typical of the contemporary interest in the subliminal aspects of nature, this piece is what might be called a tone poem now. Haydn described it as a 'Madrigal': it does have choral counterpoint. The Storm depicts the violence of a nocturnal tempest with obvious parallels in human emotions. There is only one other recording of The Storm in the catalogue, with the Haydn Society Chorus and Orchestra of the Golden Age under Denis McCaldin on Meridian (84393). Again, McGegan's is an unaffected, somewhat detached, yet not over-plain account utterly consistent with the idiom in which Haydn was working.

Lastly, this CD contains a homage to Haydn by his near contemporary, Cherubini. The Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn was written in 1805 in response to a false report that Haydn had died(!). Set aside, it soon became necessary to perform it - in 1810, a few months after the elder composer's death. A lugubrious work with low strings, horns, it's also rhetorical and also uses orchestral colour to achieve much of its impact. At the same time Cherubini's vocal part writing looks back to some of the key principles of Renaissance polyphony, which he was studying at the time he wrote Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn. Again, there is only one other recording of this work - by the Cappella Coloniensis and soloists with Gabriele Ferro on Phoenix Edition (175).

Like those of the other works on this welcome CD, McGegan's account of the Cherubini is warm, clean and persuasive. The instrumental introduction [tr.15], for example, is particularly successful … dour, rich and pointed, it really conveys how musicians must have felt on hearing of Haydn's death. Neither obsequious nor dragging, it presents a trenchant set of musical ideas which are at once a tribute to Haydn in their sparse use of orchestral colour; and at the same time an original and sensitive miniature cantata in its own right.

As with these forces' performance of The Storm, the drama works by being understated. There is nothing rhetorical. Yet the crescendi and huge contrasts in dynamics are used to good effect. The soloists' delivery might strike some as a little mannered for the beginning of the C19th. But they make up for this in clarity and restraint.

-- Mark Sealey, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Te Deum in D major, HWV 283 "Dettingen" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Colin Ainsworth (Tenor), Dominique Labelle (Soprano), Thomas Cooley (Tenor),
William Berger (Bass)
Conductor:  Nicholas McGegan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Chorus,  Göttingen Festival Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1743; London, England 
Notes: Arranger: Felix Mendelssohn. 
The Storm, H 24a no 8 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Colin Ainsworth (Tenor), Dominique Labelle (Soprano), Thomas Cooley (Tenor),
William Berger (Bass)
Conductor:  Nicholas McGegan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Chorus,  Göttingen Festival Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1792; London, England 
Dirge on the death of Joseph Haydn by Luigi Cherubini
Performer:  Colin Ainsworth (Tenor), Dominique Labelle (Soprano), Thomas Cooley (Tenor),
William Berger (Bass)
Conductor:  Nicholas McGegan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Chorus,  Göttingen Festival Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1805; France 

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