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Handel: Acis and Galatea

George Frideric Handel , William Christie , Sophie Daneman , Les Arts Florissants , Patricia Petibon , Paul Agnew , Joseph Cornwell , Alan Ewing , Andrew Sinclair , François Piolino Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Performer: Sophie Daneman, Les Arts Florissants, Patricia Petibon, Paul Agnew, Joseph Cornwell, et al.
  • Conductor: William Christie
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (September 21, 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Alliance
  • ASIN: B00001SIBI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,216 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Acis And Galatea: Act I: Sinfonia - Presto - William Christie
2. Acis And Galatea: Act I: Chorus:' Oh, the pleasure of the plains' - William Christie
3. Acis And Galatea: Act I: Recitativo: 'Ye verdant plains and woody mountains' (Galatea) - William Christie
4. Acis And Galatea: Act 1: (Air) Andante 'Hush, ye pretty warbling quire!' (Galatea) - William Christie
5. Acis And Galatea: Act I: (Air)Larghetto: 'Where shall I seek the charming fair?' (Acis) - William Christie
6. Acis And Galatea: Act 1: Recitativo: 'Stay, sherpherd, stay!' (Damon) - William Christie
7. Acis And Galatea: Act 1: (Air) Andante: 'Shepherd, what art though pursuing?' (Damon) - William Christie
8. Acis And Galatea: Act 1: Recitativo: 'Lo! Here is my love' (Acis) - William Christie
9. Acis And Galatea: Act 1: (Air) Larghetto: 'Love in her eyes sits playing' (Acis) - William Christie
10. Acis And Galatea: Recitativo: 'Oh! Didst thou know the pains' (Galatea) - William Christie
See all 13 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Acis And Galatea: Act II: A tempo ordinario: 'Wretched Lovers' - G.F. Handel
2. Acis And Galatea: Act II: Recitativo accompangnato-furioso: 'I Rage, I Melt, I Burn' (Polyphemus) - G.F. Handel
3. Acis And Galatea: Act II: Air-Allegro: 'O Ruddier Than The Cherry' (Polyphemus) - G.F. Handel
4. Acis And Galatea: Act II: Recitativo: 'Whither, Fairest, Art Thou Running' (Polyphemus, Galatea) - G.F. Handel
5. Acis And Galatea: Act II: Air-Allegro e staccato: 'Cease To Beauty To Be Suing' - G.F. Handel
6. Acis And Galatea: Act II: Air-Allegro: 'Would You Gain The Tender Creature' (Damon) - G.F. Handel
7. Acis And Galatea: Act II: Recitativo: 'His Hideous Love Provokes My Rage' (Acis) - G.F. Handel
8. Acis And Galatea: Act II: Air-Allegro: 'Love Sounds Th' Alarm' (Acis) - G.F. Handel
9. Acis And Galatea: Act II: Air-Larghetto: 'Cosndier, Fond Shepherd' (Coridon) - G.F. Handel
10. Acis And Galatea: Act II: Recitativo: 'Cease, Oh Cease, Thou Gentle Youth' - G.F. Handel
See all 17 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Handel's sunny pastorale ("oratorio" seems too imposing a word) Acis and Galatea is just the thing to cheer you up if you're feeling gloomy, its bittersweet ending notwithstanding. It gets performed and recorded these days in several different versions, ranging from Handel's chamber-scaled 1718 original (using only five soloists, who also make up the chorus) to a German-language arrangement by Mozart with four-part choir and orchestra. William Christie's version follows the one that Handel used for a 1739 revival of the piece, in which he gave the sidekick role of Damon (originally for tenor) to a boy soprano and tacked onto Acis and Galatea's duet "Happy we" a choral reprise. Whatever the variants used, this is by far the best rendition of Acis I've ever encountered. The gentle nymph Galatea is the perfect role for Sophie Daneman's light soprano; Paul Agnew's gorgeous tenor is just as well suited to Acis--ardent and brave, yet light enough that you can believe the giant Polyphemus could crush him with a rock. Because he's the villain, Polyphemus is one of the few characters at whose stupidity one can laugh without feeling mean-spirited; the only problem with Alan Ewing's beautifully sung reading is that it's not very funny--it's perhaps too musically nuanced for a character that dumb. As Damon, Patricia Petibon sounds a bit ripe for a shepherd boy, but she's superb, and her embellishments are ingenious (if not particularly spontaneous); tenor Joseph Cornwell as Coridon gives a marvelous (and surprisingly robust) rendition of "Would you gain the tender creature." Conductor William Christie has chosen well--not just his singers but also his tempi: for example, "Must I my Acis still bemoan" is much slower than usual, and much more convincingly sad. We think of Christie as a French baroque specialist, but he shows a real feeling for Handel here. --Matthew Westphal

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
(8)
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb performance of an offbeat work February 8, 2004
Format:Audio CD
In the history of opera, "Acis and Galatea" occupies a strange niche. Too short and too episodic to really be considered an opera in the true sense of the word, its light, buoyant score has nevertheless survived 300 years because it is just so good. Where else except perhaps in "Messiah" did Handel come up with so many bouyant, heartwarming melodies--"Hush, ye pretty warbling quire," "Shepherd, what art thou pursuing?", "Love in her eyes sits playing," "As when the dove laments her love," "Happy we," "O ruddier than the cherry" and "Love sounds th' alarm"--backed by such sensitive and original scoring? Granted, most of the score tends towards the lyrical than the allegro, but its deceptive simplicity is exactly what makes it a treasure to listen to.
This is the most spirited performance I've heard since the old Sutherland-Pears, and the most transparent playing and singing I've heard since the Gardiner recording, with a lilt and life all its own. Paul Agnew is a good English tenor, Daneman's slightly fluttery soprano sounds uncommonly good as Galatea, Petibon does a nice job with Damon, and Alan Ewing is a fine, rich-voiced Polyphemus (though he, like all other Polyphemuses since the great Peter Dawson, aspirates his runs in "O ruddier than the cherry"). Christie's conducting, which can sometimes sound a bit staid on records, just bubbles over with life here. A must-have for Handelians, or anyone else who likes Baroque music but is not a fan of the vocal frills and furbelows found in most early 18th-century opera.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars et in arcadia ego March 25, 2003
Format:Audio CD
While I must grant Stuart Howard whatever cup of tea pleases him best, I simply cannot fathom how he could find "Acis and Galatea" "relentlessly sugary-sweet." This music is sweet, yet it is a sweetness shrouded in a melancholy that is all the more profound for lacking all psychological and dramatic motivation, historical pomp, philosophical convolution, and all those other things that amaze small minds but only distract from the true wonder of mortal life. Where else, after all, are "depths" to be found than in love, beauty, joy, sorrow, death, the relation of Gods to Humans --- and what better stands repetition than a work which presents those passions in their purity whose own repetition and alternation is the ineradicable substance of life itself?
In the words of the poet Hölderlin:
Wer das Tiefste gedacht, liebt das Lebendigste,
Hohe Jugend versteht, wer in die Welt geblickt,
Und es neigen die Weisen
Oft am Ende zu Schönem sich.
(Who has thought the deepest, loves what is most alive,
He who has glanced into the world, understands high youth,
And the wise often incline
In the end to the beautiful)
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another William Christie winner October 13, 1999
Format:Audio CD
This delightful pastoral cantata has not been as lucky on record as one would wish. The old Gardiner recording has been the general recommendation for over 20 years, but now comes this new ERATO recording and easily swipes the board. The singers are marvelous, especially the full voiced tenor Paul Agnew, but it is the conducting of William Christie that makes this set so very special. Don't miss it, it's delightful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful January 5, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
In this recording by William Christie's crack band of players, the scale is very intimate so one can feel the textures of each individual instrument. No, you will not get the power of a large-scale Messiah, but this piece of art is of a different nature. It is about the open air, the deep love between a shepherd and a nymph, and the tragedy caused by a jealous cyclops. The vocal soloists are all in top form, especially the ladies Daneman and Petibon who seem to be singing sweetly right there in the room with you. A triumph!
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