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Händel: Athalia

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 15 2011)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony Music Imports
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #198,549 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HWV 52b, not HWV 52a - indeed, not the ATHALIA you know Oct. 19 2013
By James Rockhill - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The Hogwood (Decca), Martini (Naxos) and Neumann (MDG) recordings all reproduce the work as presented by Handel in English in 1733 (HWV 52a). This recording is an expansion and adaptation of the work performed by Handel two years later employing members of his opera troupe, some of whom had significantly different vocal ranges than those in the original performance or were not comfortable singing in English; hence the occasional episodes in which the argument slides from English into Italian. Handel further spiced up the entire affair by adding more airs and choruses in English and an organ concerto. The Hamburg theater in which Handel first encountered and wrote operatic works (cf. Keiser's FREDEGUNDA and Handel's ALMIRA) frequently alternated between Italian and the language of the audience; hence Handel had little reason to believe at this point in his career that such a polyglot production as this would be perceived as chimerical, though he had to realize that the dramatic impetus in the original work suffered somewhat from the interpolations. And it is the stop-start quality of this version's structure, which costs it a star, i.e. the fault lies with Handel, not the performers. This new version is very well served by these performances and the engineering, and even though we have to accept the interruptions to the action, made by Handel as concessions to his cast and what he perceived as the needs of his audience, those interruptions are unfailingly interesting in their own light.

If you must have dramatic cogency in Handel's oratorios, either the Hogwood or Neumann recording of this work will satisfy; however the first place I would turn would be THEODORA, which has been unusually fortunate in its recordings. My own favorites are Christie on Erato, McCreesh on Archiv, and the slightly cut, but unfailingly dramatic and musical version by Somary on Vanguard/Alto, though Lorraine Hunt adds exceptional luster to recordings made by McGegan on Harmonia Mundi (as Theodora) and Christie at Glyndeborne (as Irene), which I otherwise do not find as satisfying as those three.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Not the Athalia I know Nov. 24 2012
By Dr. Robert H. Woog - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
On the face of it, this should have been an excellent version of Athalia by an early music group with good singers - especially since there are very few rival versions. But somehow or other it is really dull (although the work itself is not), and by having some parts of it in different languages, any sense of unity is lost.
Definitely not the Athalia you have been waiting for.

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