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Handel: Sacred Music [6-CD Set]

Handel / Gauvin / Lemieux / Fink / Varcoe
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 5312   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Bernarda FinkLynne DawsonChris de MoorStephen Varcoe,   ... 
Conductor:  Jean-Claude MalgoireRinaldo AlessandriniMarc MinkowskiAlan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du RoyNamur Chamber ChoirConcerto Italiano,   ... 
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This glittering boxed set gathers the finest Handel sacred music recordings from the Naive catalog including A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, Messiah and Il Trionfo del tempo e del Disinganno. Stunning performances of oratorios are given by the incomparable voices of Karina Gauvin and Marie-Nicole Lemieux. This set is a must for the holiday season!

Albums that make up this set:

Streams of Pleasure – Handel Arias & Duets / Lemieux, Gauvin

This disc, titled Streams of Pleasure after the duet
Read more from Theodora , presents arias and duets from Handel’s oratorios premiered between 1744 and 1750; of the later oratorios, only Jephtha is not represented. Although some of these works (at least in their entirety) do not represent Handel at his best, even those from Handel’s second tier contain great and beautiful music.


The selections are fairly evenly divided; Karina Gauvin sings five arias, Marie-Nicole Lemieux has four, and they combine for six duets. Although we find some of selections we would expect to see from these works, the compilers of this program (presumably Curtis and his singers together) have bypassed some expected selections for less-well-known alternatives, such as “Our Limpid Streams” from Joshua instead of the expected “Oh, Had I Jubal’s Lyre.” “Prophetic Raptures” from Joseph and His Brethren is given in its first version; it was later shortened by ten bars.


In a recent review of Handel’s Ariodante , I praised Lemieux’s singing of the villain Polinesso. I enjoy her work here as well. She sometimes gives her voice a hooded, darker sound which seems especially appropriate to the (mostly) male characters she sings. She is, however, capable of lightening her tone as well, which she effectively does for the one female character she sings, Irene from Theodora . She is technically secure and has a decent trill, although she is not quite as smooth in florid music as Gauvin.


I have been an admirer of Gauvin since I first encountered her on recordings, and she continues to impress. The voice is beautiful, the technique assured and spotless. She does a credible job of portraying the characters whose music she sings, which must be difficult in such a program with the music taken out of context. Gauvin and Lemieux are splendid in their duets, with their voices producing a lovely, blended sound.


Curtis is of course very familiar from his peerless series of Handel operas. As one might expect, his conducting of these oratorio excerpts is equally adept. Curtis sets reasonable tempos, is supportive of his singers, and is respectful of Handel’s score. Da capo ornaments are tasteful and idiomatic. Il Complesso Barocco is up to its usual high standards.


In sum, what we have here is Streams of Pleasure indeed. Highly recommended.


FANFARE: Ron Salemi

Handel: A Song for Saint Cecilia's Day / Croft, Crowe, Minkowski
Let's not waste time: get this for soprano Lucy Crowe's voice, for her performance of "What passion cannot Music raise", for her "The soft complaining flute"--and don't forget the glorious "But oh! What art can teach". Okay--just get this for the magnificent Crowe, whose golden, ringing tone and impeccable, uninhibited technique sets Handel's arias ablaze in vibrant, scintillating glory, relegating any recorded competition to second-class status. (Listen to that long-held, stratospheric note in the final chorus, on the words "The trumpet shall be heard on high"--on high, indeed; it seems like Crowe could have sustained it forever!) To sing Handel requires technical ease and comfort, range and unreserved explicatory ability--and in this, and in her complete habitation of the world of Handelian style Lucy Crowe is unsurpassed. Lately it seems that Crowe's presence is ever more common on recordings that prick the ears and spark the question: who is that?

Of course there are many more contributors to this fine recording: tenor Richard Croft is a dynamic and worthy partner to Crowe, and the chorus is simply stunning in its near hyper-energetic renditions of those, well, hyper-energetic choruses, supported in equal measure by the first rate, crisply articulate, unreservedly exuberant orchestra. No question, the spirit of this work is rendered faithfully and reverently by Marc Minkowski and his Grenoble forces. The sound, which has the background-noisy air of a live recording (no indication given) nevertheless hands us the soloists' voices on a shining golden platter--or is it a celestial, harmonious cloud? Never mind: this is Handel at its most wondrous and compelling.

– David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com

Handel/Mozart: Messiah / Fink, Malgoire (2 CDs)

Handel: Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno / Alessandrini, Concerto Italiano (2 CDs) Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Messiah, HWV 56 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Bernarda Fink (Alto), Lynne Dawson (Soprano), Chris de Moor (Bass),
Stephen Varcoe (Baritone), Hans Peter Graf (Tenor)
Conductor:  Jean-Claude Malgoire
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy,  Namur Chamber Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1741; London, England 
Language: German 
2. Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno, HWV 46a by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gemma Bertagnolli (Soprano), Sara Mingardo (Alto), Nicholas Sears (Baritone),
Deborah York (Soprano)
Conductor:  Rinaldo Alessandrini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Italiano
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1707 
Language: Italian 
3. Ode for St Cecilia's Day, HWV 76 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  David Bates (Countertenor), Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto), Richard Croft (Tenor),
Lucy Crowe (Soprano), Anders J. Dahlin (Tenor), Luca Tittoto (Bass),
Neil Baker (Baritone)
Conductor:  Marc Minkowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Musiciens du Louvre
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1739; London, England 
4. Belshazzar, HWV 61: Destructive war, thy limits know by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1745; London, England 
5. Theodora, HWV 68: To thee, thou glorious son of worth by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749-1750; London, England 
6. Alexander Balus, HWV 65: Fury, with red sparkling eyes by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; England 
7. Susanna, HWV 66: Crystal streams in murmurs flowing by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749; London, England 
8. Theodora, HWV 68: As with rosy steps the Morn advancing by George Frideric Handel
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749-1750; London, England 
9. Joseph and his Brethren, HWV 59: Prophetic raptures swell my breast by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
10. Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63: From this dread scene by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
11. Joshua, HWV 64: Our limpid streams with freedom flow by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; London, England 
12. Solomon, HWV 67: Can I see my infant gor'd by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1749; London, England 
13. Theodora, HWV 68: Streams of pleasure ever flowing by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749-1750; London, England 
14. Alexander Balus, HWV 65: Fair virtue shall charm me by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
15. Solomon, HWV 67: Welcome as the dawn of day by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1749; London, England 
16. Hercules, HWV 60: My father! Ah, methinks I see by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1744; London, England 
17. Theodora, HWV 68: Oh! that I on wings could rise by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749-1750; London, England 
18. Belshazzar, HWV 61: Great victor, at your feet I bow by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1745; London, England 

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