Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Handel's Song for Saint Cecilia's Day

Handel's Song for St Cecilia's Day is one of his most aimiable and tuneful works. It shows Handel's mastery of melody, his genius for the human voice, and his unerring instincts about getting the most out of an instrumental band of moderate size. It's a work I've loved and turned to for a good many years now. Listening to it, one gets the strong impression that Handel really enjoyed himself writing this music to Dryden's poem.

To succeed in such high-class music, any performance needs a good instrumental band, two good soloists, and an efficient right-sized choir. For a recording, add a good recorded balance and a sound that integrates the whole ensemble without overt spotlighting.

The new recording by Ludus, conducted by Richard Neville-Towle and featuring Mary Bevan and Ed Lyon as soloists succeeds on all fronts. The soloists are not earth-shattering, but they are more than adequate. And the recording is exemplary. Thoroughly enjoyable.

It makes me want to acquire Handel's Alexander's Feast by the same forces (but with Mary Bevan's sister). However the two Delphian CDs are at a pretty high price, so I'll have to wait to pluck up courage.

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