I picked this set up in the late eighties from a music library and was spellbound by the magnificant singing and the genius of Handel. At the time I was a student and could not afford to purchase a 3CD full price boxed set.
Years later when I did have disposable income this set was unfortunately deleted from the catalogue so I turned towards the newer Christie set which reveiwers had gave a positive reception too.
How disappointed was I that I did not feel the same affection for this opera. What was it I asked myself - have I grown out of it? has the magic gone? It had to be this performance.
Christie's Alcina continued to collect dust on my shelf. I had enough I had to find the Hickox version. I endeavoured to track down my lost love to rekindle the feelings and emotions I felt when I first heard it. But to no avail.
And what happens this year? EMI finally see sense and released the Hickox recording on its Mid Priced Opera Series. You can't imagine how fast I purchased this from good ole Amazon.
So when the set comes through the post I put the first disc in and immediately it sounds different. This was the sound, this was the beauty I remember. The wonderful opening ballet (which is cut in Christie's version) - Then I hit Auger's beautiful singing of "Di, cor mio" and my heart stops and it melts - I can't get off disc 1 its too wonderful.
I don't want to be unfair to Christie et al - this is by no means a bad performance, his conducting is of a high standard, the problem is the singing and mainly Fleming she does not a candle up to Auger on the Hickox set.
With the EMI release I'm just disappointed that it comes in slipcase form rather than a proper hard case and it lacks a full libretto. For now I'll appreciate the music, but if I find the old full price version of the Hickox I will snap it up.
In conclusion unless you have to have the latest (and not the greatest) avoid the Christie set. I will keep mine as a reminder how the magic can be lost.