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Lallegro Il Penseroso

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Product Details

  • Performer: Soloists; Junge Kantorei; Barockorchester; Frankfurt; Martini
  • Composer: Handel
  • Audio CD (May 17 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Ncl
  • ASIN: B0008JEKBS
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #294,389 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Disc: 1
1. A Tempo Giusto/Allegro/Adagio - Joachim Carlos Martini
2. Hence, Loathed Meloncholy - Knut Schoch
3. Henc, Vain Deluding Joys - Linda Perillo
4. Come, Thou Goddess Fair And Free - Barbara Hannigan
5. Come Rather, Goddes, Sage And Holy - Linda Perillo
6. Haste Thee, Nymph - Chorus
7. Come And Trip It - Chorus
8. Come, Pensive Nun - Linda Perillo
9. Come, But Keep Thy Wonted State - Linda Perillo
10. There, Held In Holy Passion Still/Join With Thee - Chorus
See all 23 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Larghetto/Polonaise - Joachim Carlos Martini
2. Hence, Vain Deluding Joys - Linda Perillo
3. Sometimes Let Gorgeous Tragedy - Linda Perillo
4. But Oh, Sad Virgin - Linda Perillo
5. Thus, Night, Oft See Me - Linda Perillo
6. Populous Cities Please Me then - Chorus
7. There Let Hymen Oft Appear - Barbara Hannigan
8. Me, When The Sun Begins To Fling - Linda Perillo
9. Hide Me From Day's Garish Eye - Linda Perillo
10. I'll To The Well-Trod Stage Anon - Knut Schoch
See all 26 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Handel: LAllegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa4813ccc) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa56550b4) out of 5 stars NOT UP TO THE MUSIC July 15 2005
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Oh dear. For years now I've become accustomed to recordings of the Handel oratorios and similar works that are at a high and steady level of excellence. I learn from the liner-note that both orchestra and conductor have these works at the heart of their repertoire, and there is not a single musical project anywhere that I would support with greater enthusiasm. On top of that I have been happy on several occasions to express appreciation of Naxos for their enterprise in bringing unfamiliar music to us the musical public at moderate cost. All this makes it uncongenial to me to have to say that this particular production is somewhere below par.

I don't know whether the composer himself described this work as an oratorio. It's not my own idea of an oratorio, more an extended cantata or musical entertainment. There is no dramatic narrative or action whatsoever, and the role of the chorus is subsidiary to that of the soloists who dominate the proceedings. The text by Jennens takes Milton's pair of odes and alternates the extracts in each of the first two sections. Despite this admirable balance a need was still seen for some third way. It's not as if Milton's odes represented any extremes of mood or sentiment, but Jennens added a shorter third element `Il Moderato' anyway, and so far as I'm concerned more music by Handel is my own priority. The music is simply heavenly. The last duet `As steals the morn' would grace the St Matthew Passion itself, the quite extraordinary aria `Sweet bird' is nearly 11 minutes long, sc as long as many a first movement in Mozart's piano concertos, and the music throughout brings us Handel at his most imaginative, inspired and audacious. One matter that intrigues me is that Handel refused point-blank to write an overture, prefacing each of the three sections with movements from his concertos. His concertos were composed as entr'actes in his oratorios, they do not appear in the scores of those but full-scale overtures do. This says loudly and clearly to me that Handel did not view this composition as an oratorio in any ordinary sense.

The problems this set gives me are partly to do with the performance, partly with the recording. Basically, it all has the right idea. The style, as well as the instruments used, is authentic. Moreover some things are really very good, like the duet I referred to or like solos from organ and trumpet. The gamba has a solo too, and this brings the issue into focus - as recorded, it's rather hard to tell whether the player was actually playing very well and idiomatically or whether he was struggling a bit. What I'm sure is really the fault of the recording is the way the chorus come across - as if they were singing inside a submarine. At other points soloists and recording share the Beckmesser-points. I was starting to enjoy the soprano arioso `Join with thee' when she let out an excruciating high note. I'm quite convinced the recording was not her friend here, but she produces too many of a similar kind for me to blame it on that entirely. To cap it all the tenor gives us a similar exploit of his own in his air `Each action'. Bluntly, the soloists lack quality or distinction. Stephan MacLeod the bass is probably the best, in part because he has no high notes to tempt the recording engineers. The direction seems to me very variable, sometimes rising not badly at all to the music but too often flat-footed and uninspired. Nor is the actual playing here and there everything one would wish for.

Taking into account the bargain cost and the fact that I have so far no other version of this celestial composition, I can just about lean over backwards far enough to give the set a third star. However such music simply calls for better than this. I shall be looking to acquire another version before too long, and I urge readers of this notice to seek the society of Dr Morrison who provides guidance on better alternatives in a review adjacent to this one.

There is a really charming liner-note by the conductor himself. I thought it was going to be all about Handel's early oratorio Esther, but it gradually extended its scope to his career in general before finally getting round to a short commentary on the work it accompanies. It is informative and well-written, and translated by Keith Anderson with notable skill. Many is the time I've protested about inadequate liner-notes to first-class performances. Having now encountered the situation in reverse I suspect I may be rather less critical when I come across that again.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5a641e0) out of 5 stars Not Up to the Recorded Competition June 11 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on
Format: Audio CD
It was a particularly happy idea for Handel to set excerpts from Milton's 'L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato' ('The Happy Man, The Pensive Man and The Moderate Man'), considering the rather wretched texts he sometimes set to music. This delicious score has been recorded at least twice before in performances using original instruments and baroque performance practices, those by John Eliot Gardiner, soloists (including Patrizia Kwella and Martyn Hill), the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists (Erato); and by Robert King, soloists (including Susan Gritton and Paul Agnew), The King's Consort Choir and the King's Consort (Hyperion). There is also a fine modern-instruments performance led by John Nelson with soloists Paul Daniels and Ian Bostridge. So, the recorded competition for this work is pretty stiff. Here we have a performance by non-English forces: Joachim Carlos Martini leading the Junge Kantorei and the Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra with virtually unknown soloists (Linda Perillo and Barbara Hannigan, sopranos; Knut Schoch, tenor; and Stephan MacLeod, bass). Enthusiastic as their efforts are - and indeed there are some lovely passages in this performance - they simply are not in the same class as any of the above-mentioned artists. In particular I was put off a bit by the rather rough and ready playing of the supporting orchestra. Compared to the suavity and, dare I say it, the joy of both the English Baroque and the King's Consort, the Frankfurt ensemble sounds underinflected and underpowered. The soloists are generally ill-suited to perform Handel's florid vocal lines. The only bright spot here is the fine chorus, the Junge Kantorei.

The interesting thing was that when I initially listened to the present set I was reasonably impressed, not having listened to either the Gardiner or King sets for some years. But when I began making comparisons the lack of spark in the Martini set became obvious and I realized that my initial positive response was to reacquainting myself with Handel's wonderful music, but not the performance itself.

My advice would be to avoid this issue unless price, and price alone, is the primary consideration for making a purchase, as this is, of course, at the usual Naxos budget price.

Scott Morrison