on 20 April 2001
Take a wonderful singer,an orchestra of international repute with a conductor who is a consummate Handelian,and the result should be something quite special.And yes,for the most part it does live up to all the potential promise that the line-up vouchsafes to deliver.Bryn Terfel could squeeze the last drop of emotion out of the most recalcitrant and inert libretto with that wonderful vocal instrument of his,and in this collection he brings all his considerable musical might to bear upon some of Handel's most exquisite writing,and the result is a record that would grace anyone's collection.
When I first read the track listing,I was somewhat taken aback to see the inclusion of such arias as, "Verdi Prati";"Where'er you walk";Ombra mai fu" (that famous "Largo") and "Va tacito e nascosto".All of these were originally intended for a much higher voice to say the least,and I was curious to hear how these transposed versions would turn out.I need not have worried,as it happens,because within the context of Sir Charles MacKerras's supremely skillful arrangements,Bryn succeeds brilliantly in carrying them off,and making them very much his own.I thoroughly commend them to your ears,and if you can resist something as infectious as his "Va tacito..." with that fantastic interplay with the solo horn,then you must be hard of heart indeed !
The rest of the programme is nicely varied in it's emotional palette:from the awe and gravitas he brings to,"I feel,I feel the Deity within" from "Judas Maccabaeus",to the lust for revenge of Timotheus in "Alexander's feast".The excerpts from "Messiah",are of course as brilliant as you might suppose,but my problem is that I can't bear to approach that peerless masterpiece in any truncated or "highlight" form,and for me it's the complete work or not at all,I'm afraid.I think I echo a "Gramophone" magazine critic when I say that,so I'm definitely not alone in that particular foible.Still,despite that this is a CD that I find myself regularly pulling down from the shelf in order to savour one of the greatest voices of our times absolutely revelling in music that transcends time and space.It will delight and surprise confirmed acolytes of Handel,while no doubt rallying legions of new recruits to his standard.
on 20 July 2013
Extremely impressive. I was interested to find out that this version of 'Ombra mai fu' was at the pitch an orchestra would have played in the eighteenth century, though of course, the song was written for a castrati. My favourite song is Handel's adaption of Pope's poem, 'Where'er You Walk' which sounds marvellous.