I have immense feelings of joy when ever I listen to this CD. Some of the music on it was previously unknown to me before I had purchased the CD, but it is has now come to be a definite favourite.
As the title suggests, this is a collection of rather grand music, Handel at his most ceremonial. It is the style with which he became most associated in the years after his death, where an image of grandiose surrounded him, greatly sustained by the almost biblical status the Victorian age gave him. While it has some consensus now that this image probably wasn't helpful to Handel in the long run, it is still good to hear a rousing Handel anthem now and again.
King is at his best in these marvellous interpretations. He breathes new life into almost anything he conducts. Certainly this should be no exception. Of particular note, is the anthem 'Sing unto God'. After an admirable introduction on the violins, a lone counter-tenor sings but four introspectively powerful notes, before the full and breath-taking entry of the choir and orchestra combined, in massive block chords. It is a marvellous demonstration of Handelian ingenuity, in a deceptive appearance of simplicity. The entire anthem is incredible, and one can only imagine with what wonder the first audiences listened to it.
It's a shame also that the 'Anthem for the birthday of Queen Anne' isn't more well known. Handel's treatment is expansive, and the choral refrains are remarkably varied, the first being my personal favourite, with it's imposing entry, and highly skilled counterpoint.
I warmly and whole-heartedly recommend this CD to all, in what is a stunning example of excellence, and a triumph for Robert King.