Notes and Editorial Reviews
Famed for its interpretations of some of Handel’s most loved works, The Sixteen marks the start of its 40th anniversary season by releasing its first new Handel recording in five years. Handel’s pastoral opera is a tale of love, tragedy and liberation. The libretto by John Gay, based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book XIII), tells of the eternal love between the mortal shepherd Acis and goddess Galatea and how it is doomed by the jealous cyclops Polyphemus. Handel’s music beautifully demonstrates the pain and love in such beautiful, dramatic choruses as ‘Wretched lovers!’ and the grief felt by Galatea in ‘Must I my Acis still bemoan’. Staying true to the premiere in 1718, just five singers and nine instrumentalists feature on this intimate recording.
There is no doubt that the smaller forces bring not only greater clarity and sweetness but also uplifting drafts of clean air that seem entirely appropriate to the work…the singers are not the operatically outgoing sort. Rather, they offer uncomplicated vocal beauty and intimacy…Stuart Young’s Polyphemus, indeed, provides the most impressive singing and acting here, conjuring a monster who roars and blusters but stops short of pantomime villainy.