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Dixit Dominus

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 9 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Archiv - Universal Special Imports
  • ASIN: B00002DETD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,959 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Saeviat tellus inter rigores HWV 240: Saeviat tellus
2. Saeviat tellus inter rigores HWV 240: Carmelitarum ut confirmet
3. Saeviat tellus inter rigores HWV 240: O nox dulcis
4. Saeviat tellus inter rigores HWV 240: Stellae fidae
5. Saeviat tellus inter rigores HWV 240: Sub tantae Virginis tutela
6. Saeviat tellus inter rigores HWV 240: Alleluia
7. Laudate pueri Dominum HWV 237: Laudate pueri
8. Laudate pueri Dominum HWV 237: Sit nomen Domini
9. Laudate pueri Dominum HWV 237: A solis ortu
10. Laudate pueri Dominum HWV 237: Excelsus super omnes
11. Laudate pueri Dominum HWV 237: Quis sicut Dominus
12. Laudate pueri Dominum HWV 237: Suscitans a terra inopem
13. Laudate pueri Dominum HWV 237: Qui habitare facit
14. Laudate pueri Dominum HWV 237: Gloria Patri
15. Salve Regina HWV 241: Salve Regina
16. Salve Regina HWV 241: Ad te clamamus
17. Salve Regina HWV 241: Eia ergo, advocata nostra
18. Salve Regina HWV 241: O clemens, o pia
19. Dixit Dominus HWV 232: Dixit Dominus
20. Dixit Dominus HWV 232: Virgam virtutis
See all 26 tracks on this disc

Product Description


We know Handel mostly for the operas (Ariodante, for example), biblical oratorios (Messiah), and instrumental works (Water Music) he wrote for London high society. Yet he was producing masterpieces such as these Latin sacred works composed in Rome when he was barely into his 20s. The big chorus-and-orchestra Dixit Dominus and the soprano showpieces Sæviat tellus, Laudate pueri, and Salve Regina have been recorded several times in recent years (including, most notably, Andrew Parrott's thrilling full-scale reconstruction of the lavish Vespers service for which Handel probably wrote these works), yet this lively performance by Marc Minkowski and les Musiciens du Louvre is as good as any of them. Since Handel wrote this music for virtuoso castratos, it's no surprise that the stars here are the (female) sopranos Annick Massis and Magdalena Kozená. Both have sweet, flexible voices with more body than, say, Emma Kirkby or Jill Feldman (two of Parrott's divas), yet without the wide vibrato and relentless legato that make so many singers unsuitable for period-instrument Handel. The performance isn't flawless: Massis does sometimes let her vibrato, however narrow, get in the way of long, sustained notes; the choir, surprisingly, lets vibrato get in its way overall, sounding better suited to Beethoven than Handel. Yet the energetic tempos and generally skillful execution make this a very worthwhile release. It competes against one of Parrott's finest recordings (two discs for a lower price than Minkowski's one), but if you don't want all that chant mixed in with your Handel or happen to dislike singers such as Kirkby and Feldman, then you won't find a better Dixit Dominus than this. In fact, real Handel fans should want both. --Matthew Westphal

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I came across Minkowski's "Dixit Dominus" in February, when the Gramophone magazine reviewed it and made it its "Recording of the Month". The review (by Stanley Sadie) was enthusiastic, concluded with an outright recommendation: how often do you see a reviewer declaring that a CD will be one of his "discs of the year, maybe the century"? When I heard a fragment of "Dixit Dominus" on the CD sampler attached to the magazine, I was far from sharing Sadie's enthusiasm. What I heard was a quite exciting, but somewhat messy choral singing. I would probably let myself to be ruled by these first bad impressions, but I decided to give this disc a try. A few years ago, Minkowski the Handelian set me a little bit off by his "Ariodante", which - I believed - was treated too harshly. Today I don't see it this way. Coming from the French background, Minkowski gives us a 'biting' orchestral playing with an aggressive attack what comes as a relief after some of the recent Handel releases that are dynamically rather bland (most notably from Christie, who however can achieve the same 'biting' quality when performing French music). All pieces recorded here were written in 1707 when Handel was in his twenties. All of them are of the highest musical order, with particularly impressive choruses. Cantata "Saeviat tellus" will be known to some Handel fans from the fragments re-used by the composer in his later works (track #1 - "Apollo e Dafne" [aria "Spezza l'arco"]; #3 - "Agrippina" [arietta "Vieni, o cara", act 1]; #6 - cantata "Silete venti" and oratorio "Esther").Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
If you want to experience some absolutely wonderful music by Handel that is rarely performed then you should check out this disc. As I have made clear in my other reviews, I am a big fan of Marc Minkowski and his brilliant orchestra. These are passionate and exciting performances like most of his productions. Though, some things disturbs me. Most of all:
Why no harsichord? Many of the pieces would strongly benefit from the use of a harpsichord. The rhytmical details are really quite lost in the more dramatic movements and the textures easily gets blurry. It might be "authentic" in some way but there are so many other things that are not so why does he bother? As usual the french choirs are not really impressive. The intonation is far from impeccable but still, compared to for example the choir of C. Rousset, good and acceptable. Overall a great disc which is by the way a live recording. Kozena and Massis are superb. Dixit Dominus is the true highlight of the cd. If you like Handel it's worth buying just for this piece!
Yet another recording that kills of the "flat-earthers" illusion that period performances are boring!!
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Dixit, Laudate, Saeviat are some of Handel's most glorious music. Overall I would NOT recommend this disk highly, if at all. The soloists are all very nice, esp the sop Massis, but the orchestration and choir are not at all musical for the most part, with a wooden, almost military feel with little, if any, expression. This is not helped by the ridiculous tempi imposed by the conductor. Much of the music is FAR too fast, resulting in a rushed feel, with the soloists and other performers having to compensate - not a good sound! A real shame, because if the music weren't so rushed, it would be far more attractive. Having said that, the 'De Torrente' sop duet in Dixit is ravishing, and almost perfect in it's gentle, lilting pace - very odd to say the least given the furious pace of the initial Dixit chorus (FAR too fast!) Perhaps the lack of musicality evident in most of the disk is due to the excessive speed? For a better Laudate and Dixit on the one disk I'd go for Stephen Cleobury with the English Chamber Orch and Kings College Choir. Not perfect, but far more preferable to my ears!
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If you only know Handel from listening to Messiah, this disc should be an eye-opener. Written while Handel was in his twenties, this Italian-style church music sung in Latin is enriching and rewarding in other ways than in GFH's most-known work. As in the Messiah, there is a nice balance between solo/duet work and choral pieces, but here the soloists are really allowed to cut loose, the orchestra is kept on edge, and the full choir is very agile as well. These performances are very thrilling and meaningful, both soprani doing excellent work in their respective cantatas. The female alto, choir and period orchestra also perform wonderfully, and the recorded sound is present and full--not too much resonance. Recommended enthusiastically.
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