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Let the Bright Seraphim / Thomas, Steele-Perkins, Monks, Armonico Consort

Bach,J.s. / Armonico Consort / Monks
Release Date: 08/28/2012 
Label:  Signum U.k.   Catalog #: 289  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachGeorg Philipp TelemannAlessandro ScarlattiGeorge Frideric Handel
Performer:  Crispian Steele-PerkinsElin Manahan Thomas
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



LET THE BRIGHT SERAPHIM Christopher Monks, cond; Elin Manahan Thomas (sop); Crispian Steele-Perkins (tpt); Armonico Consort (period instruments) SIGNUM SAGCD289 (59:07)


BACH Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51. A. SCARLATTI Su le sponde del Tebro. TELEMANN Trumpet Concerto in D. HANDEL Read more class="ARIAL12b">Music for the Vauxhall Gardens: HWV 63, 14, 42, 20, 74. Water Music: Overture; Air; Hornpipe. Samson, HWV 57, “Let the Bright Seraphim”


When does an early-music ensemble go Pop? Or Mod for that matter? The answer may well be when it’s Armonico Consort, with its very eclectic and sometimes even bizarre (though they call it “original”) programming, which features themed concerts designed to attract new audiences to classical music. To read the description of their concerts so far, with rubrics such as “Too Hot to Handel,” “Naked Byrd,” or “Monteverdi’s Flying Circus,” one wonders whether this is a revamped branding in order to be hip, or if someone in Britain has gone off the reservation. Whatever one’s view of this sort of advertising, there is little doubt that they have made some impressive achievements, such as founding the AC Academy for interactive music education, which will no doubt assure a bright future for music in England, at least. This disc seems to take a more sedate view, using George Fredrick Handel’s famous aria from Samson as the title. Here, the ensemble under Christopher Monks partners with soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins, both well-known superstars in the early-music world, to create a program of favorites.


The cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen is a tried and true soprano display piece, whose final Alleluia is a magnificent tour de force for both voice and clarion trumpet, especially since it follows on to the sedate cantus firmus colophon “Sei Lob und Preis” in typically Bachian cantata style. The Scarlatti cantata too is a favorite for sopranos seeking to outdo the great Farinelli, while every trumpeter worth anything has in his or her repertory the Telemann D-Major Trumpet Concerto, with its flashy runs and showy sequences. Where the program departs from the ordinary is with the so-called “Music for the Vauxhall Gardens,” a paean towards the popular outdoors venue in London during the 18th century, where summer concerts were given in a rather impressive pavilion. The five pieces include a sort of greatest hits parade compiled by Steele-Perkins after similar bits and pieces published in the 1740s by John Walsh, concluding with some works from the Water Music , once ascribed to Handel but now probably by one of his subordinates, John Grano (1692-1748), and of course the title aria. As a concert, it is recognizable, even perhaps a bit well worn, since almost all of the pieces have been recorded previously by people such as Steele-Perkins himself and Emma Kirkby.


The result is something that purists might find redundant, though the performances themselves are quite good. Thomas has a nice, vibrant voice that blends well with the period instruments, and the Consort is both in tune and has some nice phrasing in these warhorses, which is the mark of absolute professionalism. Steele-Perkins performs ably for his part, with just enough variability to be able to discern the valveless quality of his natural trumpet, performing the various virtuoso parts with agility and alacrity. My hesitancy in the face of such a performance is that most who are knowledgeable of the period will not find these renditions out of the ordinary, even though they are expert. Moreover, the program itself will only appeal to a certain audience since many listeners will already have equally expert recordings of entire pieces at hand, though perhaps not all on one disc. Still, if one is just beginning to explore either the world of the Baroque, or even classical music at all, this should have some appeal.


FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

1.
Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet), Elin Manahan Thomas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
Written: 1730 
2.
Concerto for Trumpet in D major, TV 51 no D 7 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1708-1714; Eisenach, Germany 
3.
Il prigioniero fortunato: Su le sponde del Tebro by Alessandro Scarlatti
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet), Elin Manahan Thomas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
4.
Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63: March by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747; London, England 
5.
Il Floridante, HWV 14: Sinfonia by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1721; London, England 
6.
Deidamia, HWV 42: Lentement by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
7.
Scipione, HWV 20: March by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; London, England 
8.
Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, HWV 74: Eternal source of light by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet), Elin Manahan Thomas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1713; London, England 
9.
Water Music, HWV 348-350: Overture by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
10.
Water Music, HWV 348-350: Air by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: London, England 
11.
Water Music, HWV 348-350: Hornpipe by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1715/1736; London, England 
12.
Samson, HWV 57: Let the bright Seraphim by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Crispian Steele-Perkins (Trumpet), Elin Manahan Thomas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Christopher Monks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1743; London, England 

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