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Pure Handel

Handel / Mortensen / European Union Baroque Orch
Release Date: 05/28/2013 
Label:  Estonian Record Productions   Catalog #: 6212   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Lars Ulrik MortensenMaria [Soprano Vocals] Keohare
Conductor:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



HANDEL Admeto, HWV 22: Overture. Ero e Leandro, HWV 150 1. Water Music : Suite No. 1 in F, HWV 348. Ah! Che troppo ineguali!, HWV 230 1. Concerto Grosso in F, op. 6 No. 2/HWV 320. Il trinfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, Read more class="ARIAL12">HWV 46a: “Tu del ciel ministro eletto” 1 1 Maria Keohane (sop); Lars Ulrik Mortensen (hpd, cond); European Union Baroque O EUBO 6212 (79:00)


This is a lovely disc, recorded between 2008 and 2011 in the Trifolion Centre Culturel, Luxembourg. The European Union Baroque Orchestra (EUBO) renews its membership annually, so reinvigorating a freshness of approach. The idea behind this disc is to present works by Handel prior to the composer’s time in Rome, and therefore of about the same age as the members of the orchestra—a nice touch.


There is a very sprightly opening to the Admeto Overture (1726), added to function as an overture to the cantata Ero e Leandro (1707). The performance of the Overture is beautifully paced, with a sure awareness of counterpoint. Oboes seem a little recessed in the recording balance, the return to the opening slower section poignant. The cantata itself is given a performance that marries secure performance tradition with stark emotion. The story concerns how Leandro swims across the Hellespont (a narrow strait between Europe and Asia) to visit his lover Ero, who is being held by Aphrodite. The scoring can be stark to represent the devastated Ero as when, in the first aria’s central section, Handel pares down the instrumentation to a single solo violin and basso continuo. Swedish soprano Maria Kehone is an impassioned singer, and one whose vocal agility is fully up to Handel’s demands. Her lyricism, too, is impressive. Try the lines in the second aria, set against an agile continuo, or the devastation of the final recitative (unusually the cantata ends with recitative).


The Water Music Suite brings us to more familiar territory. In his notes, conductor Lars Ulrik Mortensen tells of how he tried to approach the score afresh, and how in the process he rediscovered wonders anew. Certainly this is a delightful and varied performance. Only the slightly swimmy acoustic mitigates against the excellence of the ongoing performance. Staccatos are beautifully pointed. Perhaps the rawness possible in the music is not always realized (by the natural horns of the third movement, for example, although to compensate the movement ends with perfect lip trills). It is true the most familiar movements do indeed seem to have a freshness of discovery associated with them here. The brisk speed for the Minuet (the seventh movement) lends it the perfect fluency.


It was a good idea to have one secular and one sacred cantata on the disc. The second dramatic cantata here, Ah! Che troppo ineguali, is a Marian hymn. It is also much shorter than its companion, comprising only a brief recitative and nine-minute aria (a prayer for forgiveness). Keohane is meltingly eloquent in her pleas, while the lachrymose accompaniment supports her perfectly.


Handel’s concerti grossi are well served by the likes of Pinnock, Manze, and Standage. Yet there is always space for more excellence, and the EUBO provides its own slice of period deliciousness. The rather daring, desolate gestures of the Largo are particularly well done, as are the tender sigh of the violins in response. Finally, there is Bellezza’s aria from Il trionfo del Tempo (1707), described in the notes as the EUBO’s “signature tune.” Poignant in extremis , and absolutely typical of Handel in his most expressive guise, this is a magnificently thought-provoking way to end a very special disc.


To sum up: pure joy. The disc is perhaps misleadingly entitled Pure Handel: Water Music . Pure Handel is fine, but there is so much more here than the Water Music . The disc is dedicated to the memory of Eric Bean, one of the principal sponsors of the EUBO. Texts are included for the vocal items, but no translations.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1.
Admeto, HWV 22: Overture by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727 
Venue:  Studio 4 
Length: 4 Minutes 55 Secs. 
2.
Qual ti riveggio, oh Dio, HWV 150 "Ero e Leandro" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord), Maria [Soprano Vocals] Keohare ()
Conductor:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1707-1710; Italy 
Venue:  Studio 4 
Length: 8 Minutes 56 Secs. 
3.
Water Music Suite no 1 in F major, HWV 348 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1715-1717; London, England 
Venue:  Classical Communications 
Length: 23 Minutes 22 Secs. 
4.
Ah, che troppo ineguali, HWV 230 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord), Maria [Soprano Vocals] Keohare ()
Conductor:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708; Italy 
Venue:  Studio 4 
Length: 10 Minutes 2 Secs. 
5.
Concerti grossi (12), Op. 6: no 2 in F major, HWV 320 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1739; London, England 
Venue:  Studio 4 
Length: 8 Minutes 5 Secs. 
6.
Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, HWV 46a: Aria. Tu del Ciel ministro eletto by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord), Maria [Soprano Vocals] Keohare ()
Conductor:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1707 
Venue:  Studio 4 
Length: 5 Minutes 49 Secs. 

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