lunes, 6 de junio de 2016

Dunedin Consort & Players / John Butt GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL Acis & Galatea

The Dunedin Consort, led by John Butt, has moved into the niche of recording original or obscure versions of Baroque choral masterworks using forces as close as possible to those of the original performances. Its 2006 performance of the Dublin version of Messiah is one of the liveliest and refreshingly intimate recordings of the work, and won a Gramophone Award for Best Baroque Vocal Album of the year. Here the group turns its attention to a much earlier Handel work, the 1718 pastoral oratorio Acis & Galatea. Through ingenious musical detective work, Butt has reconstructed the most likely constitution of the ensemble that originally performed the piece while the composer was employed at Cannons House in Middlesex. Acis & Galatea is a work stronger on charm than substance, but its charms are considerable, from its lively and lyrical solos and ensembles to its inventive and clever orchestration. While Handel is not known for comedy, and this piece is in fact a tragedy (a rejected suitor kills his rival, but the heroine transforms her slain lover into a fountain, so things don't turn out too badly), the librettists and composer treat the subject lightly and with genuine wit. The villain is portrayed as a buffoon, and Butt and his singers play up the work's humor. Baritone Matthew Brook is vocally virtuosic and comically convincing as Polyphemus; his arias "O ruddier than the cherry" and "Cease to beauty to be suing" are among the highlights of the recording. As Galatea, soprano Susan Hamilton sings with purity and unmannered grace. Tenor Nicholas Mulroy as Acis has a somewhat covered sound that keeps him from being truly heroic. Thomas Hobbs, in the secondary role of role of Damon, has a light but bright and clarion tenor. The orchestra plays with exquisite finesse and expressiveness. Butt and his exemplary forces make a strong case for this odd little piece and give it a depth and coherence that make their performance stand out among the recorded versions. (Stephen Eddins )

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