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  Hyperion -
  Handel: An Ode for St Cecilia's Day - Robert King
  Handel: An Ode for St Cecilia's Day HWV76, Cecilia volgi un sguardo HWV89

Carolyn Sampson
James Gilchrist
King's Consort
Robert King (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 8 show all

Reviews: 2

Review by nickc February 13, 2005 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I concur with Beardawgs excellent summary of this disc; what a lovely work the Ode to Cecilia is! Handel allows some of the instruments of the orchestra to shine (trumpet, cello, recorder and organ) while duetting them with great vocal writing. The King's Consort are one of the top period ensembles going around these days. Not as fiery as Europa Galante or Concerto Italiano, but of course that approach may not be apt for Handel.
In comparison with the Ode the cantata that rounds out the disc is not of the same high standard, with what seems like endless "florid runs" by the soloists, backed up by not as inspired music- not even Handel could write masterpieces everytime! No matter, the Ode is nearly 50 minutes long and well worth the price of the disc anyway.
The sound in MC is excellent; James Gilchrist does almost sound like he's in your room as Beardawgs stated. At some stages I also wished the orchestra could have been a tiny bit more prominent in the mix but it is not egregious enough for me not to give 5 stars. I just wish Hyperion would release their Kings Consort/Vivaldi series on SACD!

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Review by beardawgs January 21, 2005 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
You can’t be wrong with the winning gambit from Hyperion – Handel and King. This one has on offer Carolyn Sampson and James Gilchrist as an added bonus. Music – one of Handel’s most inspired works about the goddess of music and musicians – St. Cecilia. Dryden famous ode starts with the description of chaos and birth of the universe (brought to order with music, of course), later describing various ‘divine’ instruments, giving Handel opportunity to set to music some glorious vocal and instrumental lines. Gilchrist’s tenor is focused and clear, his diction impeccable, one can hear and understand every single word he’s singing. Carolyn Sampson reaches all her high notes with ease, her voice pure and weightless. Her opening aria with cello solo is a little masterpiece in its own right, and has an almost Bachian quality. Robert King is as ever sensitive, his direction warm and engaging, leaving the singers plenty of space to unfold every single phrase unrushed and grace the listener with plenty of tasteful ornaments. Small contribution from the choir is less exuberant as one might expect from a glorifying piece, but perfectly in tune with subtle vocal expression from the soloists. But then, they all explode after the tenor’s heroic aria about the trumpets in an outburst of joy and celebration of music.

Second piece, Cecilia, volgi un sguardo, was originally performed with the oratorio “Alexander’s Feast (or the power of music)” again, as a part of celebrations for St. Cecilia’s day (22nd of Novemeber). It is in sharp contrast with the Alexander’s music, on a much smaller chamber scale with two tenor arias, one for soprano and a closing duet. It develops in a similar manner as the Ode, this time tenor having some beautiful slow music with just a continuo group in the background, while the soprano aria is one of the most engaging Handel’s da capo arias. Again, the conductor provides a sensitive support while Carolyn Sampson delivers her long lines and coloraturas effortlessly.

This is a beautiful disc in every sense. Two perfectly matched soloists steal the show, but that was Handel’s intention on the first place. Robert King is accurate and secure leader as ever, this might be a mellower Handel for some tastes, but executed with such a perfection and attention for detail, this performance will emotionally move everybody. Hyperion confirmed expected high recording standards once again, this time with slightly more focus on the singers placing them in the room, right in front of you. A bit more surround wouldn’t go a miss, but this disc is perfect as it is.

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Works: 2  

George Frideric Handel - Cantata "Cecilia volgi un sguardo", HWV 89
George Frideric Handel - Ode "An Ode for St Cecilia's Day", HWV 76