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Handel: Hercules / Gardiner, Tomlinson, Rolfe-Johnson

Release Date: 05/05/2011 
Label:  Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog #: 423137   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Catherine DenleyJennifer SmithSarah WalkerAnthony Rolfe Johnson,   ... 
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque SoloistsMonteverdi Choir
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 33 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Gardiner's quick, light style—it goes like the wind—is very successful. This is beautiful music, beautifully performed.

John Eliot Gardiner has done much over the years to set the music of Handel where it truly belongs in public opinion by the professionalism he has brought to live performances and to recordings. When his reading of Hercules appeared four years ago it was warmly received for its fine choral and solo singing and skilful playing on period instruments and, at the same time, taken to task for the extensive cuts made and Gardiner's tendency to overinterpret, particularly in the choruses. None of this has changed, nor could it have (unless the missing sections of recitative and aria had been recorded in the
Read more first place, cut and then reinstated, and the remarks of reviewers taken to heart) in the transfer to CD. The novel immediacy of the CD medium still thrills the listener: the crisp articulation Gardiner elicits from players and singers alike is particularly well served. Happily, Handel is the ultimate beneficiary. His music sounds better than ever on CD. The clarity of the choruses and orchestral ritornellos is never more evident than in "Crown with festal pomp" of Act I, with its barn-dance introduction, and "Wanton god" in Act 2, where Gardiner's quick, light style—it goes like the wind—is very successful. "Jealousy" in Act 2 serves as an example of a Handelian chorus, dramatically played and sung, that is nevertheless spoilt by overinterpretation; the mincing articulation of the upward scale on "tyrant of the human breast" is nowhere indicated in the score, though comprehensible in Gardinerian terms as foil to the melismatic Andante section ("Trifles light as floating air") that follows. Dejanira's Act 2 dramatic recitative and aria beginning "Where shall I fly!", stirringly though it is sung by Sarah Walker, suffers a similar fate. Listeners won't be put off, nor need they be. After all, Gardiner seeks here as elsewhere to illuminate the score with greater attention to nuance and detail than anyone else has ever lavished upon it. This is beautiful music, beautifully performed.

-- Gramophone [1/1988/
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Works on This Recording

Hercules, HWV 60 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Catherine Denley (Mezzo Soprano), Jennifer Smith (Soprano), Sarah Walker (Mezzo Soprano),
Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Tenor), John Tomlinson (Bass), Peter Savidge (Bass)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1744; London, England 
Language: English 

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