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Handel - Alexander's Feast / Argenta, Partridge, George, The Sixteen, Christophers Original recording reissued

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, March 15, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

"A remarkable recording." - REPERTOIRE

The nature of Alexander’s Feast is perhaps better summed up by its other title, The Power of Music. It is a celebratory ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, written by Dryden in 1697 for the traditional celebration of the patron saint of music and set in celebratory style by Handel in 1736. At its first performance that year, he incorporated two delightful concertos, one for harp and one for organ, and these are included on this recording. Winner of the Deutschen Schallplattenkritic prize.

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Product Details

  • Performer: The Sixteen, Nancy Argenta, Ian Partridge, Michael George
  • Orchestra: Symphony Of Harmony And Invention
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (March 15, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: Coro
  • ASIN: B0007DBXJC
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,225 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
"Alexander's Feast," Handel's 1736 setting of Dryden's ode in honor of St. Cecilia's Day (patron saint of music) is a masterpiece and a delight, but its odd length - too long for a mixed program, too short for a full evening - gave Handel trouble and apparently still presents a problem: this is at present the only recording of this inspired work in the catalogue, though some good ones have come and gone. Fortunately, this reissue of the Sixteen's 1990 version is first-rate, in fact the best I ever recall hearing, with chorus, orchestra, soloists and conductor all in top form. Furthermore, music director Harry Christophers has wisely chosen to include the two concerti - one for harp, the other for organ - that Handel inserted in his original performances. Not only do they lengthen the piece to a satisfactory 115', they serve a satisfactory dramatic purpose by representing respectively the power of music in its pagan form - the bard Timotheus's lyre represented by the harp - and Christian - Cecilia's (apocryphal) organ. Both receive sparkling interpretations here.

If you enjoy such Handel works as "L'Allegro..." and "Acis and Galatea," you will certainly enjoy "Alexander's Feast," which finds the composer in peak form, responding with eagerness to the high quality of the English verse before him. And it's hard to imagine a better way to get to know it than this wonderful performance.
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Format: Audio CD
This recording is a very complete version of Alexander's Feast, following the composer's practice of inserting other pieces to create a performance of appropriate length. Excellent soloists, orchestra, and chorus. A high quality recording.
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I just attended a live performance of Alexander's Feast and I saw many people who probably never heard anything else than Messiah, suddenly finding out that there is more to Handel than Hallelujah chorus. This music is exciting and original, you may know several arias like "War he said is toil and trouble" or "Revenge!" but it is great as a complete work. It was written for St. Cecilia's Day celebration, then re-written several times, but it remains as a beautiful example of Handel's mastery in choral composition and writing showcase arias. The soloists are great, especially Ian Partridge, and the chorus is outstanding. This is a wonderful performance of one of Handel's great works.
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