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|2. Dixit Dominus|
Emma Kirkby is in fine voice in the Gloria and is more than equal to the virtuosic demands of the music. I don't think I have ever heard her sound so good on record. The RAM Baroque Orchestra provides sterling support. So, five stars here for the work itself and the performance.
However, far fewer stars for the rest of the disc. The filler (a re-issue of Dixit Dominus) is a let-down. I suspect BIS were struggling to find a suitable work in their back catalogue with which to pair the Gloria. Apart from Anne Sophie von Otter's brief contribution, the rest of the performance is, in my opinion, uninspiring. There are better recordings of the work.
The total duration of the disc is only just over 49 minutes. At full price, that really isn't competitive in an age when virtually all new releases or re-issues have 60-70 minutes of music.
I suspect it won't be too long before someone else records the Gloria (several well known names have been rumoured), on a CD which is rather more generous in length. It may be better to wait.
Gardiner's 'Dixit Dominus' is superior to the well-known archive one on this recording, which comes across a little flat. It would have been good if the Academy could have produced a third Handel work to supplement the 'Gloria' - perhaps a Motet like 'Saeviat tellus inter rigores' or the Psalm 'Nisi Dominus'. Gardiner tags on the Vivaldi 'Gloria' instead. But it is something of a curious afterthought, and given the choice of the two I would definitely plump for this CD if it is the Handel you are after.
A couple of other recordings have become available since this release and the Philips one. The Gottingen Handel Festival Edition is a live recording from their 3 June 2001 gala performance with Dominique Labelle, soprano, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and conductor Nicholas McGegan. And the Baroque Academy of Montreal offer another period instrument rendition on Atma Classique (ACD2 2215), accompanied by the Bach and Vivaldi settings. However, Emma Kirby remains the benchmark.