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Handel - Hercules Box set

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Handel: Hercules (3 CDs)
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Product details

  • 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)
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Hercules - 69 tracks on 3 CDs - George Frideric Handel - George Frideric Handel

Product description

Product description

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

Amazon.co.uk

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

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Three years after Minkowski's classic Ariodante, he recorded another manjor Handel work, this Hercules.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought this some years ago, and enjoyed it, but happening to look on the internet I found that the Gardiner production, recorded 20 years earlier, was clearly still well thought of. So I bought the cheaply packaged one and was agreeably surprised by its outstanding soloists and the incisive quality of the choruses.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
Ok, this is not the greatest Handel ever but there is a huge amount to admire. Minkowski and his orchestra are virtuosi, they play with a magnificent panache and precision. Von Otter in the main role of Dejanira singings immaculately; this is clearly a performance designed for the microphone and my only criticism is that she occasionally goes too much off voice. Richard Croft is magnicent as Hyulus with thrilling colloratura. Gidon Saks as Hercules is not really suited to baroque music but does a fine job. Lynne Dawson is a bit of a problem for me in that I find her tone over bright and feel she lacks support but her fans will be pleased. David Daniels is fine as Lichas but I have a problem with counter tenors, tending to find them weak in dynamics and vocal range, so if you like him, here he is in fine form skipping about the runs. There are many choruses and they are sung superbly. But the greatest achievement is Marc Minkowski's who makes this work compulsive listening and gives meaning to each aria sinfonia.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Thank you for the perfect condition set!
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Format: Audio CD
This was an awesome find for a recent convert to Handels music. For a live recording it sounds like studio quality. This is an opera in English in all but name. Outstanding!
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