This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
When Trevor Pinnock's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day was recorded in 1985 it was only the second version made by period-instrument proponents (Harnoncourt's was the first, in the late 1970s). On its release it was something of a revelation, and it still strikes me as the best available version. At a time when early-music ensembles sounded as if they were still trying to come to terms with the recalcitrant tools of their trade, the English Concert produced vivid, polished playing that, in contrast to performances by some of its peers, was almost heretically expressive. The singers of the English Concert Choir also sang with shadings and energy far removed from the cathedral choir blandness that afflicted
so many Handel performances. And the soloists, Felicity Lott and Anthony Rolfe Johnson, avoided the hootiness and boyish timbres then venerated by early music specialists. Pinnock's forces also were appropriately scaled for a big Handel oratorio--a 24-voice chorus and 33 instrumentalists.
Pinnock leads the proceedings from the harpsichord and plays the organ solo in "But oh! What art can teach". Tempos are on the swift side--50 minutes versus (at the other extreme) Bernstein's 60--but they never sound hectic or driven, since rhythms are pointed and articulation precise. Pinnock's orchestral soloists are first-rate as well: Handel's instrumental imagery fits Dryden's text and here yields soulful cello playing in "What passion cannot music raise and quell", vivacious trumpets and forceful timpani in "The trumpet's loud clangor", and lovely flute and lute passages elsewhere, all played to perfection.
Lott and Johnson are excellent soloists, the best I've heard in this piece. Heather Harper, in Benjamin Britten's live concert performance on BBC, swoops and pecks at coloratura passages that Lott sails through effortlessly, and Johnson brings more character and tonal heft to his singing than Peter Pears does for Britten, while Bernstein's soloists are just plain outclassed in every way. The sound is equal to the performance and, with its wide soundstage and pinpoint clarity, holds up well in this vibrant transfer. In all, a very welcome reissue.
--Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Ode for St Cecilia's Day, HWV 76 by George Frideric Handel
Felicity Lott (Soprano),
Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Tenor)
English Concert Choir
Written: 1739; London, England
Date of Recording: 12/1985
Venue: Henry Wood Hall, London, England
Length: 50 Minutes 30 Secs.
Featured Sound Samples
4. Aria: "What passion cannot music raise and quell!"
5. Aria: "The trumpet's loud clangor"
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