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Alexanders Feast: the Power O


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First performed in London in 1736 to an admiring audience of 1,300 people, and enjoying considerable success thereafter, Handel' setting of John Dryden' 1697 poem Alexander' Feast evokes the power of music to stir the soul to acts of love and war, revenge

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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not the Best 'Alexander's Feast' March 12 2010
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Handel wrote Alexander's Feast to celebrate St. Cecilia's Day, one of two works in his oeuvre honoring the patron saint of music, and it was premiered in 1736. Set to a text by Dryden, somewhat altered by Newburgh Hamilton, it tells the story of the 'The Power of Musick' (the work's subtitle) in the apocryphal story of Alexander the Great's encounter with the courtesan Thaïs and the musician Timotheus who urge him to burn the palace of the former Persian ruler, Xerxes. The text outlines the power of music to evoke feelings of love, vengeance, political ardor, religious feeling and heroism.

This CD, while adequate, is marred somewhat by the coolness of its performances. Joachim Carlos Martini and his forces, soloists soprano Gerlinde Sämann, tenor Knut Schoch, bass Klaus Mertens, the Junge Cantorei and the Frankfurt Baroque orchestra, give us a measured, occasionally limp performance of this often stirring music. There are other better performances (given complete, it might be said; this recording eliminates the purely orchestral portions that have been traditional in this work) led by such artists as John Eliot Gardiner Händel: Alexander's Feast and Harry Christophers Handel - Alexander's Feast / Argenta, Partridge, George, The Sixteen, Christophers and others. My own favorite is part of a 5CD set with an Alexander's Feast conducted by Philip Ledger and featuring the wonderful Sir Thomas Allen Handel: Saul; Alexander's Feast; The Choice of Hercules [Box Set]. The latter is available actually for less per disc than this present CD. In addition, this issue does not come with a libretto which is a problem as the diction of the singers is frequently not understandable.

Scott Morrison
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Satisfactory Handel Jan. 16 2011
By Warren Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This disc contains both parts of the Ode written in honor of St. Cecilia, HWV 75. The piece itself marries detailed music making and requires solid vocal contributions from the featured soloists, while at the same time not coming across as too heavy sounding. This demands a joyful and energetic touch from the orchestra (and its conductor), as well as inspired performances from the soloists. The Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra more than does its job here, providing deliciously enjoyable music for the soloists to launch themselves from. Unfortunately, while each individual soloist performs their role well, the performances themselves rarely sparkle -- each featured solo and recitative are executed correctly, but as a whole there seems to be something missing.

I cannot point to one particular thing that seems lacking - rather, as a whole it seems as if either the orchestra outshines the soloists, or the soloists can't quite match the orchestra's energy level. With respect to recording quality, the piece itself is well recorded, and the acoustics of the venue are certainly adequate. But again, there is *something* lacking. That being said, if what you are looking for is a recording of this piece that you can put on in the background and not worry about being suddenly distracted, then this is definitely a recording worth purchasing - ditto if you are looking to complete a collection of Handel's works. On the other hand, if you want a performance that enthralls you and makes you stop what you are doing to pay attention to it, then this probably won't fit the bill.

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