Handel: Chandos Anthems
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Handel's beautiful, intimate settings of liturgical texts written for the First Duke of Chandos are among his less well known choral works and are proved by this second volume from Trinity also to be among his loveliest. They are a perfect example of the composer's English style heard in Acis & Galatea and oratorios such as Judas Maccabaeus. The soloists on this recording include internationally acclaimed Handelians Susan Gritton and Iestyn Davies, and the young tenor Thomas Hobbs, whose warm, lyrical tone is perfect for this repertoire. Trinity College Choir Cambridge sing with their usual youthful exuberance tempered with elegance, style and precision, under the expert guidance of Stephen Layton.
Three cheers for three more anthems for the Duke of Chandos to complement the three already available. His Grace musical establishment was much smaller than the sizable forces employed here but many listeners will enjoy hearing Handel performed on a relatively grand scale. --Gramophone, July'13
Good conductors will tell a choir that the words are just as important as the music; there's no point in singing if you can't be understood. Stephen Layton has drilled his singers to perfection in this trio of Handel's Chandos Anthems, making every word distinct and every crisp consonant a taut springboard on which to propel Handel's irresistible rhythm, aided by some wonderfully tight playing from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Thomas Hobbs is the stand-out soloist, his delightfully light and easy tenor perfect for this repertoire. --Observer,7/7/13
Handel's Chandos Anthems are full of the composer's apparently limitless expressive invention, and these performances couldn't be better. ***** --Sinfini Music, 27/07/13
This recording is a must, not only for lovers of Handel's music but of fine choral singing. --IRR, Sept'13
Susan Gritton's radiant soprano, Iestyn Davies's immaculately contoured countertenor and the appropriately lyrical English tenor of Thomas Hobbs are the icing on the cake. Perfomance **** Recording ***** --BBC Music Magazine, Oct'13
Top Customer Reviews
There are only two decent recordings of these works: one is the ancient King's set under Willcocks, comic in a way but rooted in a liturgical tradition which gives it its own "authenticity": the other, the 2002 Graham O'Reilly disc of three anthems, reconstructing the performance conditions at Cannons (single voices, small band)in a very dynamic fashion. I wish O'Reilly had recorded more, but there's no doubt that his path is the way to go - that, or one of our expert collegiate choirs. What about it, Mr Higginbottom ?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's been quite some time since the entire set of 11 Chandos Anthems have been recorded (to my knowledge, the last time this was done was in the 1990s: Handel: Chandos Anthems (Complete)). And so it is wonderful to see the Trinity Choir at Cambridge recording these again, albeit piecemeal, because it gives us a new glimpse into these magnificent pieces. The Trinity Choir now has two such discs available, the first, here (covering Chandos Anthems 8, 6A, and 5A, and the other covering 7, 9, and 11a and with different soloists and orchestra Handel: Chandos Anthems Nos. 7, 9 & 11a). The performances here by the Trinity Choir, the soloists, and the Orchestra of the Enlightenment, are excellent, with one of the real strengths the outstanding soloist performers who deftly and smoothly produce some truly lovely incarnations of Handel's score.
Unfortunately, I find the recording of this disc is not up to the standards from the recording covering 7, 9, and 11a. Whereas that other recording is simply superb, with rich, deep, and expansive sound that reflects the pinnacle of modern recording techniques, this one here, although exhibiting almost no noise, seems to have the sound bunched up in the midrange, with an almost distorted sound surrounding some of the instruments. I believe this is likely because of the tone curve chosen during the mixing and mastering process (likely to emphasize the voice parts), but the unfortunate effect is, in my own opinion, a disappointment, particularly once you have listened to the other disc in the set. Perhaps some equalization adjustments can address the overall sound issue, but to me its quite a disappointment on such a recently made recording.
This should not prevent you from purchasing this album. The performances are superb, and there is a silky quality from both the Trinity Choir and the soloists that is an experience not to be missed. It is also a rare example of these works being recently released, so any Handel aficionado will want these. I can only give this a four star rating due to the less than expected sound quality, but I still strongly recommend the recording. And while you are at it, make sure you get the other disc Handel: Chandos Anthems Nos. 7, 9 & 11a, whose sonic characteristics and performances will blow you away.