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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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.
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.