Review of Hyperion Label's L' Allegro by Handel
I own both the Gardiner performance (Erato) from the 80's and now this newer performance by King (Hyperion) from the 90's, and the King routs Gardiner. Not only does this newer recording benefit from better sound, but the solo singing is uniformly better, being informed by more recent scholarship. In addition, some of the solos on the Gardiner set are just weak, such as those of the boy soprano, who has almost no voice at all, thus ruining his part completely. On Hyperion's excellent set, in contrast, all of these problems are completely avoided; all the solo parts are taken by adult singers, who do both Milton and Handel grand, making this lovely poetry completely audible. King's orchestra and chorus are also the equal of Gardiner's well-known, excellent ensemble, and they perform the later edition of this delightful music which Handel prepared about a year or two after the initial performances, thus adding almost twice as much as Gardiner performs in his version of Handel's original version. In short, haste thee, and purchase King's period instrument triumph of Handel's L' Allegro and bring out smiles, jollity, and rejoicing all around.