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Handel: L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 17, 2005
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Product Details

  • Performer: Linda Perillo, Barbara Hannigan, Knut Schoch, Stephan MacLeod, Junge Kantorei
  • Orchestra: Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra
  • Conductor: Joachim Martini
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (May 17, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0008JEKBS
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #611,457 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Oh dear. For years now I've become accustomed to recordings of the Handel oratorios and similar works that are at a high and steady level of excellence. I learn from the liner-note that both orchestra and conductor have these works at the heart of their repertoire, and there is not a single musical project anywhere that I would support with greater enthusiasm. On top of that I have been happy on several occasions to express appreciation of Naxos for their enterprise in bringing unfamiliar music to us the musical public at moderate cost. All this makes it uncongenial to me to have to say that this particular production is somewhere below par.

I don't know whether the composer himself described this work as an oratorio. It's not my own idea of an oratorio, more an extended cantata or musical entertainment. There is no dramatic narrative or action whatsoever, and the role of the chorus is subsidiary to that of the soloists who dominate the proceedings. The text by Jennens takes Milton's pair of odes and alternates the extracts in each of the first two sections. Despite this admirable balance a need was still seen for some third way. It's not as if Milton's odes represented any extremes of mood or sentiment, but Jennens added a shorter third element `Il Moderato' anyway, and so far as I'm concerned more music by Handel is my own priority. The music is simply heavenly. The last duet `As steals the morn' would grace the St Matthew Passion itself, the quite extraordinary aria `Sweet bird' is nearly 11 minutes long, sc as long as many a first movement in Mozart's piano concertos, and the music throughout brings us Handel at his most imaginative, inspired and audacious.
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Format: Audio CD
It was a particularly happy idea for Handel to set excerpts from Milton's 'L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato' ('The Happy Man, The Pensive Man and The Moderate Man'), considering the rather wretched texts he sometimes set to music. This delicious score has been recorded at least twice before in performances using original instruments and baroque performance practices, those by John Eliot Gardiner, soloists (including Patrizia Kwella and Martyn Hill), the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists (Erato); and by Robert King, soloists (including Susan Gritton and Paul Agnew), The King's Consort Choir and the King's Consort (Hyperion). There is also a fine modern-instruments performance led by John Nelson with soloists Paul Daniels and Ian Bostridge. So, the recorded competition for this work is pretty stiff. Here we have a performance by non-English forces: Joachim Carlos Martini leading the Junge Kantorei and the Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra with virtually unknown soloists (Linda Perillo and Barbara Hannigan, sopranos; Knut Schoch, tenor; and Stephan MacLeod, bass). Enthusiastic as their efforts are - and indeed there are some lovely passages in this performance - they simply are not in the same class as any of the above-mentioned artists. In particular I was put off a bit by the rather rough and ready playing of the supporting orchestra. Compared to the suavity and, dare I say it, the joy of both the English Baroque and the King's Consort, the Frankfurt ensemble sounds underinflected and underpowered. The soloists are generally ill-suited to perform Handel's florid vocal lines. The only bright spot here is the fine chorus, the Junge Kantorei.Read more ›
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Handel: L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato
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