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5.0 out of 5 stars The Reawakening of an English Orpheus, 4 Mar 2013
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This review is from: William Hayes: Six Cantatas, Orpheus & Euridice (Audio CD)
This latest release from Glossa of the music of William Hayes is the second disc issued by the same label containing pieces from the vocal repertoire of the Oxford based composer. A contemporary of Handel it is not surprising that Hayes' music contains that all too familiar element of Handelian resonances so common in the compositions of mid eighteenth century English composers. Glossa's first Hayes recording of the ode `The Passions' in 2010 was indeed a rare treat. Given my admiration for the music of Handel and contemporaries, I find such unusual indulgence just as enjoyable if not even more invigorating to the senses. After listening to this latest release from Glossa, one curiously wonders what other musical riches still lie dormant or undiscovered in British libraries all worthy of a recording.

This latest two disc set of vocal pieces attests that Hayes too became a shadow in the shadows of the great Handel. Here Hayes six cantatas, published as a set in 1748, was apparently a great money spinner for the composer and publisher (one would only imagine) when more than 300 people subscribed eagerly to the publication. Although each cantata contains its own narrative Hayes touches each of these with individual character, providing a translucent illustrative of remarkable distinction. Cantatas 1 to 5 are scored for solo voice and continuo, while his sixth and last cantata An Ode to Echo contains a beautifully `rich' and formidable style of orchestration. Such pictorial scoring includes an `echoing interplay between soloist and orchestra', a `roaring sea' imitated by the `surge of strings' and the not too unfamiliar strain of a flute imitating a warbling nightingale. Nonetheless the cantatas, sung by tenors (Paul Bentley and David Munderloh) and sopranos (Mirjam Berli and Evelyn Tubb) have been brought back to life with splendid vigor and vitality. It is interesting to note that Tubb and Munderloh, veterans of the Glossa release of 2010, curiously seem to be even more at ease with the music of Hayes in this latest recording. The second disc in this new issue is another one of those large scale odes usually written for a special occasion. Scored for soprano, alto, and tenor with a usual chorus, two oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo, Orpheus and Eurdice is the earliest of Hayes's odes. Although it contains the standard supply of an overture, recitative, arias, and chorus, the technical demands made on all performers is most evident; four-part fugues appear in the overture and chorus, lyricism, though confined, is characterised by fluctuating expressiveness and so on. In short, the cast of performers are superb; they are flawless and are highly pictorial. This is a brilliant recording of splendid magnitude from start to finish.
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William Hayes: Six Cantatas, Orpheus & Euridice
William Hayes: Six Cantatas, Orpheus & Euridice by Evelyn Tubb (Audio CD - 2013)
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