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Alceste

George Frideric Handel , Christian Curnyn , Early Opera Company , Lucy Crowe , Benjamin Hulett , Andrew Foster-Williams Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Price: $14.64 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 23 Songs, 2012 $8.99  
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Product Details

  • Performer: Lucy Crowe, Benjamin Hulett, Andrew Foster-Williams
  • Orchestra: Early Opera Company
  • Conductor: Christian Curnyn
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (May 29, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B007KWD6ES
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,737 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A splendid minor work May 20, 2012
Format:MP3 Music
This semi-opera was originally intended to complement Smollett's play at Covent Garden but for a variety of reasons - cost, arguments, lack of suitable singers - it never reached the stage. Never one to waste his labours, Handel made the best of things by re-cycling the majority of the music from this aborted project in "The Choice of Hercules", itself performed as an interlude during a revival of the ode "Alexander's Feast" and other numbers appeared in "Belshazzar" and "Alexander Balus". The original work was forgotten so we must be grateful for the chance to hear it reconstructed here for three main singers, with conductor Christian Curnyn choosing to insert two instrumental numbers to represent the banks of the Styx and Elysium respectively.

The sound is excellent: roomy, slightly reverberant and "churchy". The playing is exemplary and indeed often virtuosic - the work of the two trumpeters in particular, who slither up and down the scale wonderfully in the "Grande Entrée" (track 2). The small choir makes a lovely, well-tuned and balanced sound and their diction is excellent. Tenor Benjamin Hulett sings in the best tradition of British Handelian tenors such as the late Anthony Rolfe Johnson, being fleet and light yet virile of tone. I am less impressed by "bass-baritone" Andrew Foster-Williams, not because he is in any sense an inadequate singer but because in accordance with another less admirable British tradition he is clearly no kind of bass and hardly a baritone given his lack of low notes in his one area for Charon, "Ye fleeting shades, I come". His voice has the slightly throaty quality common to a singer working in too low a tessitura and the low E is a groan. The aria is expertly sung but lacks the macabre gravitas a true bass could impart to it.
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