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Handel & Croft: Music For The Peace Of Utrecht

Handel / Netherlands Bach Society / Veldhoven
Release Date: 08/10/2010 
Label:  Channel Classics   Catalog #: 29610  
Composer:  George Frideric HandelWilliam Croft
Performer:  Julian PodgerWilliam TowersWolfram LattkeNicki Kennedy,   ... 
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

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


Handel had returned to England from Hanover in the fall of 1712, some months before the Treaty of Utrecht (actually a series of treaties) was signed the following April. However, evidence suggests that the composer already had in hand his Te Deum, long in advance of the celebratory events surrounding the end of many decades of war among the great powers of Europe. In England the Te Deum was normally sung at such times of thanksgiving, and until Handel the version by Purcell from 1694 was the traditional favorite. In a fairly short time, the 27-year-old Handel had worked his way into the favor of
Read more England's queen, Queen Anne, and although he still was technically a "foreigner", his Te Deum--along with the quickly composed Jubilate--was authorized for the peace celebrations at St. Paul's cathedral on July 7, 1713, and from then on it became the preferred alternative to Purcell's popular setting.

Anyone who knows Handel will immediately recognize the infectious melodies, buoyant harmonies, and nifty fugal entries, all eminently singable and profoundly memorable, that define the work's 10 movements for soloists and chorus. Jos van Veldhoven and his Netherlands Bach Society prove excellent advocates for this music, which has received inexplicably scant attention from choirs and recording companies. The soloists are all very good, and experienced listeners will notice the presence of such veteran period music specialists as Peter Harvey and Julian Podger.

The highlight of the program certainly is the purported world-premiere recording of William Croft's own tribute to the Peace of Utrecht, which was performed in Oxford only days following Handel's Te Deum. If you didn't know it was Croft's work, you might easily believe it to be a lost composition by his Chapel Royal colleague. It's got all the tunes and lively rhythms and engaging solo arias that connect us so fondly to Handel's music, although textually speaking we're more in the world of Purcell, exemplified by such passages as "The softly breathing flute and sprightly violin, tuning to peace and Britain's glorious Queen...", or "Let all harsh notes and jarring discord cease". The overture is a smash, with ringing trumpets and scintillating strings and the requisite dancing rhythms. Likewise the final chorus is pure joy, combining reminders of Purcell with the most vibrant Handelian references. Again, choir and soloists are first rate, with energetic and technically polished support from the orchestra.

The sound, from the Philharmonie, Haarlem in The Netherlands, exemplifies Channel Classics' typically superior production work, in both SACD and standard CD formats. This is a program that's not only a pleasure to listen to, but it's intelligently, purposefully designed--including the marvelous reproductions of period paintings of Utrecht in the disc packaging--leaving us happily immersed in and impressed with these delightful works that may originally have been occasional pieces but now have proved their credentials as lasting masterpieces. In 2013 the city of Utrecht is planning a celebration of the 300th anniversary of the famed treaty, as "the host, stage, and partner of festivities, art, and culture." But here on this CD we have our own little celebration, not only a musical treat but, in my case at least, a prompt to research some European history--not on the program but well worth the effort. Highly recommended!

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

1. Utrecht Te Deum, HWV 278 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Julian Podger (Tenor), William Towers (Countertenor), Wolfram Lattke (Tenor),
Nicki Kennedy (Soprano), Peter Harvey (Bass)
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1713; London, England 
2. Utrecht Jubilate, HWV 279 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Julian Podger (Tenor), William Towers (Countertenor), Wolfram Lattke (Tenor),
Nicki Kennedy (Soprano), Peter Harvey (Bass)
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1713; London, England 
3. Ode for the Peace of Utrecht by William Croft
Performer:  Julian Podger (Tenor), William Towers (Countertenor), Wolfram Lattke (Tenor),
Nicki Kennedy (Soprano), Peter Harvey (Bass)
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society
Period: Baroque 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 What fun! January 8, 2013 By R. Willard (W. Simsbury, CT) See All My Reviews "This baby will pick you right up and keep you on a music high for the sheer joy of so much positive music. Good sound, fine chorus/orchestra and soloist to match. If you like Handel and his buddies get this recording. It is really so much fun that you will probably play it twice through the first time.. I did." Report Abuse
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