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Carmelite Vespers [Import]

George Frideric Handel Audio CD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 15.70 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Details


Disc: 1
1. Deus in adjutorium meum intende
2. Antiphon I: Pulchra es et decora
3. Dixit Dominus Domino meo
4. Virgam virtutis tuae
5. Recum principium
6. Juravit Dominus
7. Tu es sacerdos
8. Dominus a dextris tuis
9. De torrente
10. Gloria Patri
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Antiphon IV: Benedicta filia tua Domino
2. Nisi Dominus aedificaverit
3. Varum est vobis ante lucem surgere
4. Cum dederit delectis suis somnum
5. Sicut sagittae in manu potentis
6. Beatus vir
7. Gloria Patri
8. Antiphon IV: Benedicta filia tua Domino
9. Antiphon V: Speciosa facta es
10. Psalm V: Lauda Jerusalem Dominum
See all 30 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Amazon.ca

His own Lutheranism notwithstanding, Handel wrote some remarkable music for the Catholic liturgy while in Rome as a young man. In our era they've been performed in the concert hall--large-scale, multi-movement pieces such as the robust Dixit Dominus and the gracious Nisi Dominus in particular coming across as miniature oratorios. But they were, in fact, church music--as Andrew Parrott reminds us with this speculative reconstruction of a lavish 1707 Vespers service for which the young Handel provided music. The performance by Parrott and his Taverner groups is exhilarating. The Dixit Dominus in particular packs a real wallop. The contralto, tenor, and bass soloists do excellent work with their limited music, but Handel was obviously writing for star soprano castrati, and the real stars here are Parrott's three (female) soprano soloists. Jill Feldman wasn't in her best voice for this recording: her louder moments can sound a bit strained, but her softer singing is truly lovely and she rips through some forbidding coloratura. Emma Kirkby is, of course, a delight in Laudate pueri, and Emily van Evera sings superbly--her timing in the solemn opening and closing bars of the Salve Regina will have you on the edge of your seat. --Matthew Westphal

Product Description


Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A vision of the future emerging from the past May 6 2004
Format:Audio CD
This young man, only 22 in 1707, has composed here some of the most advanced Vespers of his time if not of all times. He covers an enormous musical range from Gregorian Antiphons to Bach's fugue style and a treatment of instruments and melodies that announces Mozart and all 18th century developments. He is a composer that is able to bring together the heritage of several centuries and the promises of his own time and even his future. He joins heritage and vision in music. What's more he gives to these Vespers a sound and charm that is in the tradition of the Renaissance : the vision of the Virgin is pure, happy, extremely brilliant, beautiful, and absolutely redeeming. No austere element comes into this picture to spoil it. It is Raphael's Virgin, the one we can only see in Dresden in Germany that is projected into our brains, ears, skulls and hearts. Handel is here at his best and yet he is only starting his career and many other bests will come. What's more Andrew Parrott conducts this music with flexibility, brilliance and more than gusto, real enthusiasm. Some wonder how Handel, a German Protestant, could compose such vespers to the Catholic Virgin and for a Catholic religious order. They just don't understand Handel. He is all-inclusive, he is able to absorb, dominate and transcend any style and objective. He knows that music is its own aim and target and not the religious intention. He knows, just like Monteverdi or Bach, that the best way to enhance any religious faith or belief is to provide it with the beauty of the most advanced and varied music one can invent and perform. These Vespers have to be considered as some of the best along with Monteverdi's and Vivaldi's. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting June 7 2000
Format:Audio CD
An interesting attempt at recreating the whole Vespers as it may have been (either Handel did not write a whole Vespers or it has not all come down to us). I liked the attempt: it really could have been that way.
I also liked the soloists and the choir and the orchestra. I did feel some of the tempos were a bit faster than was flattering to the soloists and the choir: it seemed they were SO fast that the notes could not even be sung well. And I generally like fast tempos especially by clear voices, as these are. I just felt the tempos were too fast at times. I, like the other reviewer, wanted printed texts included: how much can it cost to add two pages to the album liner?
Otherwise it's a fine recording that sheds an interesting light on some of Handel's early works.
Though these works are early pieces by Handel (from his brief sojourn in Italy) they show his genius as clearly as many of his more celebrated later works.
If you're a Handel devotee, like me, you might want to add this to your collection.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful music - poor performance April 3 2002
By Romeo
Format:Audio CD
This has the potential to be a very fine recording - excellent soloists, amazing music - in fact Dixit, Saeviat Tellus, Laudate are some of Handel's finest music writing. Unfortunately the music is ridiculously rushed, with the feeling that Parrot was in a hurry to catch a bus or something and the result is very disappointing. There is little worse than inappropriate tempi (except for terrible playing or soloists), added to that, the playing is not particularly stylistic or musically intelligent, possibly due to the fast pace. In fact, the whole set seems to lack inherent expression and musicality, despite the calibre of the soloists. The finest Dixit I have heard was coupled with Laudate Pueri Dominum (also the finest I've heard) in a single disk with Isobel Buchanan, Anne Mackay, Michael Chance, William Kendall, Henry Hurford with the choir of King's College and Stephen Cleobury - A Decca disk. I'd go for that one!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Latin psalms and Marian motets June 30 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
A theoretical reconstruction of what Handel's 1707 Roman vespers might have sounded like. A selection of large scale Latin psalms (HWV 232 237 243 238 235 240 241) originally recorded in 1987 for EMI's now defunct Reflexe label.
Parrott marshalls a famous cast including Emma Kirkby, Emily van Evera, Mary Nichols and David Thomas. The black mark (again Mr Branson) no texts. Fair enough most listeners to this repertoire know the words to Nisi Dominus and Salve Regina, but who knows the lyrics to Saeviat tellus inter rigores? Can't help but feel Virgin are being cheap on us here.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting June 7 2000
By David Wihowski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
An interesting attempt at recreating the whole Vespers as it may have been (either Handel did not write a whole Vespers or it has not all come down to us). I liked the attempt: it really could have been that way.
I also liked the soloists and the choir and the orchestra. I did feel some of the tempos were a bit faster than was flattering to the soloists and the choir: it seemed they were SO fast that the notes could not even be sung well. And I generally like fast tempos especially by clear voices, as these are. I just felt the tempos were too fast at times. I, like the other reviewer, wanted printed texts included: how much can it cost to add two pages to the album liner?
Otherwise it's a fine recording that sheds an interesting light on some of Handel's early works.
Though these works are early pieces by Handel (from his brief sojourn in Italy) they show his genius as clearly as many of his more celebrated later works.
If you're a Handel devotee, like me, you might want to add this to your collection.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Divine, the Delectable and the Disastrous April 3 2007
By Leslie Richford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
George Frideric Handel (1685 - 1759): Carmelite Vespers 1707. Second Vespers of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (as it might have been heard in Rome in July 1707 and containing seven motets by Handel embedded in appropriate Gregorian chant). Performed by Jill Feldman, Emma Kirkby, Emily Van Evera, soprano; Margaret Cable, Mary Nichols, alto; Joseph Cornwell, tenor; David Thomas, bass; The Taverner Choir; The Taverner Players; directed by Andrew Parrott. Recorded in June 1987 at St. Augustine's, Kilburn/London, England. First published 1989 by EMI; re-released in 1999 as Virgin Veritas 7243 5 61579 2 7. Total time: 2 hrs and a few seconds.

This is one of those speculative "reconstructions" of a historical occasion, this particular one being more speculative than most, as nobody really knows what part Handel played in the Roman Carmelite Vesper for 1707, nor whether his music was actually played there or not, nor if so, by whom, nor whether other composers were involved. Andrew Parrott and his team have decided for practical reasons to include all seven of Handel's extant Latin motets and to embed them in Gregorian chant appropriate for the occasion. I assume that it was also practical rather than theoretical considerations which led Parrott to use female singers rather than boy sopranos or countertenors for the soprano and alto parts - this is thoroughly unhistorical, but understandable as these parts would originally have been performed by "castrati" (who have, thank God, in the meantime died out).

The juxtapositioning of Handel's opulent music - even as a 22-year-old, his interest was mainly in opera - and the dull sobriety of counter-reformation chant can, I suppose, be seen as highlighting the modernity and brilliance of Handel's music, although personally I think I could have appreciated this without the labour of listening to Latin Marian antiphones. Parrott seems to want to emphasize the brilliance of Handel's music with fast tempi, but these tend to put the music under a certain pressure that I felt it could have done quite well without - Handel's music is so wonderful that a more deliberate dwelling on it would have been more than acceptable.

Of the soloists, it is the divine Emma Kirkby who, once again, shines like a star in the artistic universe: both her "Laudate, pueri" and "Haec est regina virginum" are absolute highlights of the set, my only query being as to the rather anglicized pronunciation of Italian ecclesiastical Latin. Others have criticized Jill Feldman ("Saeviat tellus") and felt her voice to be strained, but personally I felt her to be quite delectable, my only stricture being that the smallness of her voice would normally have required a completely different concept from the recording engineer (more on this in a moment). The other soloists fulfilled my expectations, and Emily Van Evera ("Salve Regina") exceeded them. The exception to this was bass David Thomas, who I'm afraid inspired me to use the word "disastrous" in the title of this review - I don't think I have ever heard him sound so hoarse and so unsensitive as he does here. Choir and orchestra are both very good, although I felt that the "Dixit Dominus" for all its drive did not come over as well as on the old Warner-Erato recording by John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir.

Having used the word "disastrous" I need to add two other points that made me feel that this CD set was very ambiguous. One is the engineering. The sound is realistic, for a big church, but distant, there being apparently no supporting microphones to pick out soloists. It may be a problem with my hardware, but I found listening in front of loudspeakers to be a trial, very unsatisfying, and I had almost given up when I changed to headphones and suddenly the whole acoustic seemed to come into focus (although even then there were softer passages when I felt that I would have loved to hear the soloists more loudly and clearly). I'm sure this sound was a deliberate decision by Andrew Parrott, but I really do feel that the kind of sound one can hear on many a studio recording would have been a better choice.

The other "disastrous" factor on this re-issue is the so-called "documentation". Not only are there no texts, but also no indications of who is singing when, no names of orchestra members, no indication of the instruments used and an accompanying essay of less than one page that I found to be thoroughly useless - it would have been simpler and more rewarding if Virgin had simply (with permission, of course) reprinted Stanley Sadie's review of the original issue from "Gramophone Magazine".
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vision of the future emerging from the past May 6 2004
By Jacques COULARDEAU - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This young man, only 22 in 1707, has composed here some of the most advanced Vespers of his time if not of all times. He covers an enormous musical range from Gregorian Antiphons to Bach's fugue style and a treatment of instruments and melodies that announces Mozart and all 18th century developments. He is a composer that is able to bring together the heritage of several centuries and the promises of his own time and even his future. He joins heritage and vision in music. What's more he gives to these Vespers a sound and charm that is in the tradition of the Renaissance : the vision of the Virgin is pure, happy, extremely brilliant, beautiful, and absolutely redeeming. No austere element comes into this picture to spoil it. It is Raphael's Virgin, the one we can only see in Dresden in Germany that is projected into our brains, ears, skulls and hearts. Handel is here at his best and yet he is only starting his career and many other bests will come. What's more Andrew Parrott conducts this music with flexibility, brilliance and more than gusto, real enthusiasm. Some wonder how Handel, a German Protestant, could compose such vespers to the Catholic Virgin and for a Catholic religious order. They just don't understand Handel. He is all-inclusive, he is able to absorb, dominate and transcend any style and objective. He knows that music is its own aim and target and not the religious intention. He knows, just like Monteverdi or Bach, that the best way to enhance any religious faith or belief is to provide it with the beauty of the most advanced and varied music one can invent and perform. These Vespers have to be considered as some of the best along with Monteverdi's and Vivaldi's. And they contain no sad lamentation, just the pleasure of knowing that redemption is at the tip of Mary's fingers, provided we can touch her heart. And this music must move her in the deepest layers of her love and care for human sinners, human beings, humanity. In other words this music is a milestone on the road to the Erklärung and the Enlightenment of the 18th century that will produce our modern world. It thus can become an inspiration for the new phase in which we have to navigate towards an ever more humane world. It reverbates with peace and human communion.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delight Oct. 5 2009
By Ethelred - Published on Amazon.com
James Peterson assertion of shrillness is unwarranted. This is a delightful recording; the soloists are superb and the chorus spot-on. My advice: buy it!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Contextualization Dec 28 2007
By Kevin Kimtis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The success of this recording lies in the unique presentation of these wonderful works of Handel. In being recorded in the context of a Carmelite Vespers liturgy, the music takes on a new tone that would certainly be lacking in any other recording. Without this context, we cannot experience the music as it was intended to be experienced. I say, experience, for, in this recording, the music of Handel ceases to be mere 'kunstmusik', but becomes true, functional, prayer as well.
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