These are the sacred works of Handel from his first Italian stay, and include, Nisi Dominus, Dixit Dominus, Laudate Pueri, the Salve Regina and the Carmelite works. With the exception of minor imperfections in the Latin pronounciation of several of the singers, this is a wonderful recording. It is constructed so that the works of Handel are fitted into a Vesper Service with antiphonies and the Handel works in the position of the psalm. Therefore it is conceived as a Vesper Service overall. I think that for several of the individual works included here, particularly Laudate Pueri,Nisi Dominus and Dixit Dominus there are better recordings e.g. for Laudate Pueri, Nisi Dominus (see: Harmonia Mundi Musique d'abord collection) and for Dixit Dominus (see: Balthasar-Neuman Deutsche Harmonia Mundi) or (Minkowski DG); but the virtue of this recording is the conception and organization of the music as a Vesper Service with the Handel works inserted into it as probably no one ever heard them before. From this aspect therefore it is a unique recording and a possible desert island choice. (N.B. There are errors in pronunciation of the Latin in this recording.)Handel: PsalmsCaldara - Missa Dolorosa; Handel - Dixit DominusHandel: Dixit Dominus
Parrot and his ensemble of period players create an astonishing sound world for these vespers - which are virtuoso compositions from the young Handel, a celebration of sound played with vibrancy and passion, with no holding back. I am a relatively recent convert to Handel, after many years of thinking him a second-rate Bach. No longer, it is recordings like this that have made me understand the beauty, simplicity and vibrancy of the sound world he inhabits
This young man, only 22 in 1707, has composed here some of the most advanced Vespers of his time if not of all times. He covers an enormous musical range from Gregorian Antiphons to Bach's fugue style and a treatment of instruments and melodies that announces Mozart and all 18th century developments. He is a composer that is able to bring together the heritage of several centuries and the promises of his own time and even his future. He joins heritage and vision in music. What's more he gives to these Vespers a sound and charm that is in the tradition of the Renaissance : the vision of the Virgin is pure, happy, extremely brilliant, beautiful, and absolutely redeeming. No austere element comes into this picture to spoil it. It is Raphael's Virgin, the one we can only see in Dresden in Germany that is projected into our brains, ears, skulls and hearts. Handel is here at his best and yet he is only starting his career and many other bests will come. What's more Andrew Parrott conducts this music with flexibility, brilliance and more than gusto, real enthusiasm. Some wonder how Handel, a German Protestant, could compose such vespers to the Catholic Virgin and for a Catholic religious order. They just don't understand Handel. He is all-inclusive, he is able to absorb, dominate and transcend any style and objective. He knows that music is its own aim and target and not the religious intention. He knows, just like Monteverdi or Bach, that the best way to enhance any religious faith or belief is to provide it with the beauty of the most advanced and varied music one can invent and perform. These Vespers have to be considered as some of the best along with Monteverdi's and Vivaldi's. And they contain no sad lamentation, just the pleasure of knowing that redemption is at the tip of Mary's fingers, provided we can touch her heart. And this music must move her in the deepest layers of her love and care for human sinners, human beings, humanity. In other words this music is a milestone on the road to the Erklärung and the Enlightenment of the 18th century that will produce our modern world. It thus can become an inspiration for the new phase in which we have to navigate towards an ever more humane world. It reverbates with peace and human communion. Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
Will not pretend to know much about classical music, but I do like early sacred choral works, I bought this on a whim, and cannot recommend it highly enough! I find that it transports me, quite beautiful.