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Handel: L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato /Gritton · McFadden · Anderson · Agnew · N Davies · King's Consort · King [Double CD]

George Frideric Handel , Robert King , King's Consort Choir , King's Consort , Lorna Anderson , et al. Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £20.70 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
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Handel: L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato /Gritton · McFadden · Anderson · Agnew · N Davies · King's Consort · King + Handel: Acis and Galatea
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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Jan 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B000026CVB
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,519 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. [Grave] - Allegro - Lentement - Allegro moderato
2. Hence, loathed Melancholy
3. Hence, vain deluding Joys
4. Come, thou goddess fair and free
5. Come rather, goddess, sage and holy
6. Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee
7. Come and trip it as you go
8. Come, pensive nun, devout and pure
9. Come, but keep thy wonted state
10. There, held in holy passion still
See all 23 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Hence, vain deluding Joys
2. Sometimes let gorgeous tragedy
3. But O, sad virgin, that thy pow'r
4. Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale career
5. Poplous cities please me [us] then
6. There let Hymen oft appear
7. Me, when the sun begins to fling
8. Hide me from Day's garish eye
9. I'll to the well-trod stage anon
10. And ever against eating cares
See all 25 tracks on this disc

Product Description

CD Description

After the success of Alexander's Feast, a setting of the much admired ode by John Dryden, it was wondered: would the result be greater still if Handel could be persuaded to set the words of a poet even greater than Dryden? Such were the thoughts of an important group of Handel's friends centred around the philosopher James Harris and including Charles Jennens (later the librettist of Messiah) and the Fourth Earl of Shaftesbury. It was under their influence that Handel came to set the poetry of John Milton, first in L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, and later in the oratorio Samson. Jennens helped to prepare the libretto for L'Allegro, the first two parts of which are adapted from Milton's two complementary poems, L'Allegro ('The Merry Man') and Il Penseroso ('The Thoughtful Man'), respectively celebrating the different joys of two opposed personalities. The initial idea of interweaving lines from the two poems to make a text for musical setting actually came from James Harris, who also provided the first draft of the libretto. By 19 January 1740 the libretto was finished, and with Handel's enthusiasm and speed in writing the first performance took place on 27 February! There is no definitive version of the work as Handel made many changes over time. However, the intention of this perfomance is to retain the freshness of Handel's original vision with the advantage of the best of his second thoughts.


GRAMOPHONE RECORDING OF THE MONTH GRAMOPHONE CRITICS' CHOICE TIMBRE DE PLATINE (OPERA INTERNATIONAL, FRANCE) CLASSIC FM MAGAZINE BEST OF THE MONTH 'One of Handel's loveliest English works, full of the pastoral delights of Acis and Galatea and some of his most sublime vocal inspirations' (The Sunday Times) 'L'Allegro would with little doubt be one of my desert island pieces, all the most so after listening to this first truly complete recording of Handel's delectable pastotal ode. Enjoy!' (Gramophone) 'This delightful set … must surely rank as one of the discs of the year' (The Scotsman) 'Unfailingly excellent' (BBC Music Magazine) 'Robert King's affection for the work shines out from every number' (Classic CD) 'This pure Baroque beauty is a dramatic piece rich in short, tuneful airs, each more beautiful than the last. Few Handel vocal works give me such enduring pleasure' (Classic FM Magazine) 'A first rate work ... This is easily one of the best of the year and perhaps the best Handel recording of 1999' --(Goldberg)

Customer Reviews

3 star
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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best by far! 10 Feb 2009
Format:Audio CD
J.E.Gardiner's is oft cited as the best version of this remarkable work. John Nelson's set has a dream cast of voices. But it is Robert King's set that is the winner. He gives us the work with no cuts (unlike Gardiner). Where Nelson races through this work and misses it's subtlties (indeed, Nelson's set was a missed opportunity), King leaves one feeling that his tempos are just right.

This is one of Handel's most wonderful compositions and Robert King conducts a performance that fully satiates the senses. The vocalists give full satisfaction. Buy it before any of its rival recordings without reservation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best! 8 Dec 2011
By Roz
Format:Audio CD
In my view, still the best recording of L'Allegro. Wonderful orchestral playing, delightful soloists, superb atmosphere and feeling for the work. Absolute pleasure. I would not want to be without it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gardiner, I think, still has the edge 17 Sep 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have had the excellent Gardiner recording for many years, and when I saw the Robert King advertised - and to much acclaim - I bought it so as to make a comparison. What struck me particularly was the difference in the quality of the voices.
Considering the sopranos first, I have to admit to a predilection for voices with less vibrato. With this in mind both Patrizia Kwella and Jennifer Smith (Gardiner) appeal to me more than do Susan Gritton and Claron Mcfadden (King); further, Kwella and Smith are true sopranos, yet Smith has the quality of a mezzo and Kwella almost that of a contralto, so their voices come through both truer to the note and richer. Marie Mclaughlin (Gardiner) does not however share these qualities, and her voice is in this respect similar to that of Mcfadden.
Lorna Anderson (King), on the other hand, has a beautiful voice which comes through so well in "Sometimes let gorgeous tragedy", "Hide me from day's garish eye" (Part II), and in the delightful aria "Sweet bird" which steals the show in Part I; in these she easily bears the palm. However, I found 14 minutes of "Sweet bird" too long - yes, even for this! - and it could do with a reduced da capo as
was done by Gardiner.
Turning to the men now, Gardiner has two tenors, both with superb voices, against only one in King; and his voice is what I might describe as a thinner quality than either of Gardiner's; also one or two pieces are too mannered for my taste, particularly the recitative with which the work opens. The two basses were, I thought, equally effective.
The choruses are good in both productions, but I think that King takes "Or let the merry bells" (end of Part I) too fast, so that one feels that the singers are being hurried along.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rush to buy L'Allegro 23 April 2000
By David Cloke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is music that makes you feel glad to be alive - is there any composer better at expressing joy than Handel? This piece is all about the multi-faceted joys to be experienced - of the hunt(CD1, 16), the carnival (CD1, 23), solitude (CD1, 8,9), the theatre (CD2, 2,9) and the beauty of the night (CD2, 24). It is also a wonderful, perhaps unsurpassed, evocation of pre-industrial England. The singing is almost always first rate and Robert King seems to have shaken off the slightly restrained demeanor of some of his earlier Handel recordings and perhaps as a consequence the King's Consort and Choir are inspired. If you are unconvinced listen to the gorgeous duet at the end of part 3, possibly the best Handel ever wrote, and the sheer verve of the tenor air and chorus, 'These delights if though canst give'.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer delight! 15 Mar 2000
By Izolda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is really a feast for Handelians, beautifully played and sung. The earlier recording of this oratorio, made by Gardiner in the 80-ties, is not only incomplete but also less impressively executed. It is wonderful to have both sets, but this new one from Robert King brings much more life to this splendid music. It is one of my desert island discs!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King Triumphs in Handel's Pastoral Ode, L' Allegro 3 Nov 2008
By Paul S. Rottenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty, grace and joy 15 Feb 2007
By KC - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
A wonderful performance of a beautiful piece. Good taste personified! In a complete and uncut studio recording. Robert King is served by excellent orchestral playing and strong singers. Susan Gritton's singing is wonderful. I can find nothing to fault and everything to commend. Buy it!
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential 28 Nov 2013
By Adam Gopnik - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Handel at his greatest, and nothing gets better than that. The juxtaposition of slow and fast, upbeat and melancholy, is inherent in all of Handel's work: here it has a programmatic purpose,too.
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