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Handel: Acis and Galatea

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Handel : Acis & Galatea
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Audio CD, 5 Jul 1999
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Product details

  • Performer: Sophie Daneman, Patricia Petibon, Paul Agnew, Joseph Cornwell, Alan Ewing, et al.
  • Orchestra: Les Arts Florissants
  • Conductor: William Christie
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (5 July 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Erato (Warner Music)
  • ASIN: B00001SIBI
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,656 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product description

Product description

CHRISTIE WILLIAM / LES ARTS FL

Amazon.co.uk

Handel's sunny pastorale ("oratorio" seems too imposing a word) Acis and Galatea is just the thing to cheer you up if you're feeling gloomy, its bittersweet ending notwithstanding. It gets performed and recorded these days in several different versions, ranging from Handel's chamber-scaled 1718 original (using only five soloists, who also make up the chorus) to a German-language arrangement by Mozart with four-part choir and orchestra. William Christie's version follows the one that Handel used for a 1739 revival of the piece, in which he gave the sidekick role of Damon (originally for tenor) to a boy soprano and tacked onto Acis and Galatea's duet "Happy We" a choral reprise. The gentle nymph Galatea is the perfect role for Sophie Daneman's light soprano; Paul Agnew's gorgeous tenor is just as well suited to Acis--ardent and brave, yet light enough that you can believe the giant Polyphemus could crush him with a rock. Because he's the villain, Polyphemus is one of the few characters at whose stupidity one can laugh without feeling mean-spirited; the only problem with Alan Ewing's beautifully sung reading is that it's not very funny--it's perhaps too musically nuanced for a character that dumb. As Damon, Patricia Petibon sounds a bit ripe for a shepherd boy, but she's superb, and her embellishments are ingenious (if not particularly spontaneous); tenor Joseph Cornwell as Coridon gives a marvellous (and surprisingly robust) rendition of "Would You Gain The Tender Creature". Conductor William Christie has chosen well--not just his singers but also his tempi: for example, "Must I My Acis Still Bemoan" is much slower than usual, and much more convincingly sad. We think of Christie as a French baroque specialist, but he shows a real feeling for Handel here. --Matthew Westphal

Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
When one wants to get a recording of a baroque piece, particularly a vocal one, there are usually two posiibilities. You may go for a non-authentic performance with world-class singers that are really not particularly suited for baroque music, while the conductors and the orchestras sound like they would rather do Wagner than Handel. On the plus side you get real drama and excitement. Or you may choose to go for a period performance, which, although scholarly, often sounds dead and without any individuality. In the case of this recording, you get the best of both worlds. This is a period performance and it sounds like Handel, but at the same time the score breathes and the singers are involved. One of Christie's best efforts. Daneman may not have the virtuosity of a Sutherland, but her voice and style are more suited to this type of repertoire, and she sounds young and vulnerable in many of her solos. Agnew has a beautiful if small voice as Acis, and he finds a note of sensuality in Acis' second air. Ewing makes Polyphemus rather comic, without much cruelty in his voice, but this is maybe the way Handel wanted it. If you are unfamiliar with the cantata, it is one of the most intimate and melodic of all Handel, and makes a perfect introduction to baroque opera.
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Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
This performance is tingling with invention and liveliness. A fine recording.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Great performance and exquisite music
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
An excellent record, which arrived promptly.
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By A Customer on 27 Mar. 2006
Format: Audio CD
Acis and Galatea is a delightful early work composed by Handel for James Brydges at Cannons. Unfortunately, this recording is very disappointing. Just two examples of a general lack of stylistic sympathy are insensitive and consistently perverse tempi in the first half which alienate the listener, and the miscalculated casting of bland soprano voices for Damon and Corydon. The second CD is just about acceptable, but by then you really wont care. Far better to track down the John Elliott Gardiner recording from DG with Willard White.
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