- Performer: Anne Sofie von Otter, Gidon Saks, Richard Croft, Lynne Dawson, David Daniels, et al.
- Orchestra: Les Musiciens du Louvre
- Conductor: Marc Minkowski
- Composer: George Frideric Handel
- Audio CD (11 Aug. 2010)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 3
- Format: Box set
- Label: Archiv
- ASIN: B00005YVOR
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 168,229 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Handel - Hercules Box set
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Handel: Hercules (3 CDs)
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Handel: Hercules / Minkowski, Von Otter, Croft, Et Al . Release Date: 04/02/2002 . Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg) . Catalog #: 469 532 . Spars Code: DDD . Composer: George Frideric Handel . Performer: Lynne Dawson, Gidon Saks, David Daniels, Anne Sofie von Otter, ... Conductor: Marc Minkowski . Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Musiciens du Louvre, Choeur des Musiciens du Louvre . Number of Discs: 3 . Recorded in: Stereo . Length: 2 Hours 56 Mins. Works on This Recording: 1. Hercules, HWV 60 by George Frideric Handel Performer: Lynne Dawson (Soprano), Gidon Saks (Bass), David Daniels (Countertenor), Anne Sofie von Otter (Soprano), Richard Croft (Tenor), Marcos Pujol (Bass) Conductor: Marc Minkowski Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Musiciens du Louvre, Choeur des Musiciens du Louvre Period: Baroque Written: 1744; London, England Date of Recording: 04/2000 Venue: Salle Molière, Théâtre de Poissy, France Length: 176 Minutes 9 Secs. Language: Italian
Full of powerful drama and splendid music, this oratorio (an opera in all but name) has been neglected for reasons that remain a mystery. Marc Minkowski and his crack early-music band set things right, however, with a sparkling performance Handelians will greet with joy. The story revolves around Dejanira's jealousy of hubby Hercules and her attempt to win the hero back, which ends in his death, her remorse, and the union of the young lovers, Hyllus, her son, and Iole, the foreign princess she mistakenly believes her rival. The singing is on a high level throughout, though the intense Dejanira ideally wants a bigger voice than von Otter's lighter, lyric instrument. Gidon Saks's big, resonant bass-baritone is superb and Lynne Dawson's gorgeous soprano fits Iole perfectly. Richard Croft's firm tenor and imaginative singing make something special of Hyllus's every appearance. Only David Daniels' veiled singing disappoints in the important role of the Herald. At the 1744 premiere, Handel assigned the part to a contralto, so there's no historical justification for a countertenor here. A live 1958 La Scala performance, sung in Italian, is the only viable rival on disc--its deficiencies are compensated for by the presence of great voices including Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Franco Corelli--but this excellent Archiv production now rules the roost. --Dan Davis
Top Customer Reviews
Von Otter, Dawson and Croft joined him again with equal success.
Although this oratorium is somewhat less accessible than the opera Ariodante, all the superlatives I wrote in my Ariodante review can be used again.
The work starts with Dejanira mourning Hercules' abscense, somewhat exaggerating her sadness. That seems to be typical of Dejanira's character because she doesn't need much to be swifted from one mood to another. When her husband returns, extreme joy immediately
tempered by jealousy when she sees the beautiful prisoner Iole.
This is the center of the drama, Dejanira's jealousy makes her murder Hercules.
It is clear from the start that Dejanira dominates the work, and this role needs an exceptional singer/actress. To me, Von Otter is a total success, technical assurance combined with great vocal acting. Her performance culminates in the madness scene in the third act 'Where can I fly'. With every repetition of the line 'see the dreadful sisters rising', her singing becomes more and more hysterical and desperate.
It makes me sit on the edge of my seat.
The other singers are no less convincing, Hercules has only three great scenes, one in each act. Gidon Saks is a solid bass, perhaps lacking firmness in the lowest notes. The third act scene where he is dying can stand the comparison with Dejanira's mad scene.
The soprano role Iole was written for Elisabeth Duparc, the first Semele.
She gets her best scene in the first act when she tells how much her father's death brings her suffering.Read more ›
Playing the two alternately the Minkowski choruses sounded woolly in comparison, and the soloists - though good - did not seem so well suited to the work. Also, the tempos and dynamics of the Minkowski were now too extreme for my taste, an example of the former being the chorus "Crown with festal pomp the day" and of the latter the chorus "Jealousy! Infernal pest"; Gardiner's tempos and dynamics are more measured.
Then, too, this is a French production, where a substantial number of the chorus and two - possibly three - of the soloists are not native English speakers, a fact which comes through in this production.
So, acknowledging that this is merely my personal view I have decided to award only three stars.