George II's coronation, which is depicted on this Hyperion two-CD set, took place in 1727 amid chaotic circumstances and it's hard to know how much of the surviving documentation indicates what actually happened as against what was meant to happen. So Robert King's musical recreation of the event is inevitably a mixture of scholarship and speculation, throwing in items from past coronation ceremonies (such as Purcell's I was glad
) on challengeable evidence. But never mind. This is an exercise you have to take in broad terms and, as such, it's brilliantly effective, with clear, sharp-edged performances of the four coronation anthems (including Zadok the Priest
) that Handel definitely did write for the event, together with what would in 1727 have been old music by Tallis, Gibbons and Blow, plus spatial sound effects of grand processions, fanfares, shouts of acclamation and the bells of London, all recorded in rural locations west of Swindon because the real thing is impossible to get these days free of 21st-century traffic noise. One reservation: it's all a touch staid with over-stately tempi and less atmosphere than it could happily sustain. You just don't believe it's happening in Westminster Abbey (nor is it: most of material was recorded in a Lutyens church in Hampstead Garden Suburb, North London). Also, over two CDs, the endless trumpet fanfares get a little wearing. But that's probably authentic. And since the second CD comes free, there's nothing to complain about. --Michael White
Crowning The King's Consort's celebrations of its twenty-first birthday and its millionth CD sale for Hyperion, comes a truly spectacular reconstruction, that of the Coronation of King George II in Westminster Abbey in 1727. Complete with ringing trumpet fanfares sounding from all corners of the venue, dramatic drum processions up and down the aisles, shouts of acclamation from a huge cast, pealing church bells (especially recorded at historic churches and cathedrals across England and Wales), and some of the greatest of all ceremonial music, this two-for-the-price-of-one disc is a spectacular musical and sonic tour-de-force. The music is fronted by Handel's four great Coronation Anthems, including Zadok the Priest (so striking at its first 1727 hearing that it has been performed at every Coronation ever since), alongside splendid coronation music by Henry Purcell, John Blow, William Child, John Farmer, Thomas Tallis and Orlando Gibbons.