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Handel: Esther Hybrid SACD

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD, 14 May 2012
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Product details

  • Performer: Robin Blaze, Matthew Brook, James Gilchrist, Susan Hamilton, Nicholas Mulroy, et al.
  • Orchestra: Dunedin Consort
  • Conductor: John Butt
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (14 May 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD
  • Label: Linn Records
  • ASIN: B0072H9BFE
  • Other Editions: Audio CD |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,853 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Product description

Product description

LINN 397; LINN RECORDS -; Classica vocale Sacra Oratori

Review

Esther is well known to have been the first of Handel's English oratorios, but exactly when it was first heard, and in what form, remains uncertain. The first version, which probably dates from 1718 and may have been performed as a masque, is effectively lost, and Handel made a total revision and expansion of the score in 1732. But John Butt and his Dunedin Consort perform what they call the first reconstructable version of Esther, dated 1720, which is a sacred drama whose significance to Handel's later, better-known oratorios is clear. Butt explains the historical background to the score he has created in his detailed sleeve notes, but as with all his Dunedin performances, and their previous Handel and Bach recordings, the scholarship is only a means to an end, and is never allowed to get in the way of the wonderfully crafted music making. Textures are lean 11 singers, including the soloists, 20 instrumentalists but wonderfully precise, and the solo contributions, with soprano Susan Hamilton as Esther, are models of stylishness. --Andrew Clements - The Guardian

Fed up with the depressing weather? Access hot sunshine with this bouncy account by the Edinburgh-based Dunedin Consort of Handel's Esther, generally presumed to be the first English oratorio. The CD advises purchasers that the version performed is the first reconstructable version (Cannons), 1720. Indeed it is, though I'd better not go into the scholarly detail lest we both fall asleep. What matters most is not the niceties of the edition used (derived from Handel's original conception of a compact staged entertainment), but the performers freshness and dash. After their past accounts of Handel and Bach we've come to expect youthful verve from John Butt's ensemble. But the singers virile word-painting still grabs the lapels in this striking work, inspired by the legend of the Jewish queen who saves her Persian community from annihilation (as enshrined in the biblical Book of Esther). At the revived version's premiere in 1732, foreign singers so mangled the words the the Persian king's line I comb my Queen to chase the lice . Nothing like that happens with James Gilchrist's king (so powerfully smitten with the Jewess's charms), Susan Hamilton's Esther (so ringingly pure), robin Blaze's heartfelt priest or Matthew Brook's villainous Haman, consonants dipped in venom as he determines to remove all Israelites from the land. Inevitably we think of the Holocaust; the libretto's not always easy listening. Much of Handel's music was appropriated from his Brockes Passion though it fits its new surroundings very well. Along the way, Butt's lean ensemble (19 players) shower us with instrumental delights, building in colour and diversity with delicious harp traceries, the comfortable ballast of two bassoons, and finally a triumphant trumpet when everything turns out happily for everyone, Haman excepted. Handel's musical resources generally open out as the piece proceeds, with the chorus's role increasing in importance. Once again, Butt's forces are small: eleven voices all told, eight doubling as soloists, each singing as if every word matters. That's more than enough to keep us on the edge of our seats. --Geoff Brown - The Times

Fed up with the depressing weather? Access hot sunshine with this bouncy account by the Edinburgh-based Dunedin Consort of Handel's Esther, generally presumed to be the first English oratorio. The CD advises purchasers that the version performed is the first reconstructable version (Cannons), 1720. Indeed it is, though I'd better not go into the scholarly detail lest we both fall asleep. What matters most is not the niceties of the edition used (derived from Handel's original conception of a compact staged entertainment), but the performers freshness and dash. After their past accounts of Handel and Bach we've come to expect youthful --Geoff Brown - The Times

Butt's direction combines spontaneous freshness with a care for expressive phrasing and precise colouring. The 11-strong chorus - the solo cast plus reinforcement - is vital incisive, packing a fair punch even in the ceremonial final chorus. June 2012. --Gramophone Magazine

The scholarship is only a means to an end,and is never allowed to get in the way of the wonderfully crafted music making.Textures are lean 11 singers, including the soloists,20 instrumentalists but wonderfully precise,and the solo contributions,with soprano Susan Hamilton as Esther,are models of stylishness.The Guardian,17th May 2012. --The Guardian

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on 31 March 2013
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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on 27 June 2016
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
7 people found this helpful.
3.0 out of 5 starsNot as wonderful as I'd hoped.
on 8 July 2014 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
5 people found this helpful.
5.0 out of 5 starsDunedin Has DoneItAgain!
on 17 July 2012 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase


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