SIGN IN

Top Menu

Tag Archives | handel

CD REVIEW: Hallelujah For Handel Arias

Robert Crowe in concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with Concerto d’Amsterdam and Elizabeth Wallfisch.

 

Handel: The Complete Amen, Alleluia Arias
Robert Crowe, soprano, and Il Furioso
Toccata Classics TOCC0337

By Andrew J. Sammut

CD REVIEW — Nearly half of this disc is made up of Handel’s settings of the words “Amen” and/or “Hallelujah,” likely intended for performance in private homes and deliberately light on lyrical content. Yet Handel makes these spiritual declarations by turns reflective (HWV 271), resigned (HWV 274), joyous but refined (HWV 276), virtuosic (HWV 277), and, of course, triumphant (HWV 275). The album also includes three vocal works from the Harmonia Sacra, a collection of sacred solo songs published in various editions during the late 17th century and also aimed at home use: William Croft’s bright, heavily ornamented hymn to music, an anonymous composer’s graphic vision of Christ’s crucifixion, and John Church’s emotionally ranging “A Divine Hymn,” which soprano Robert Crowe calls “a truly under-appreciated masterpiece.”

This music was intended for “amateur” musicians, meaning “non-professional” rather than “unskilled, dilettante” and certainly not “student,” according to Crowe. These works are technically involved and expressive, and the musicians approach them with obvious knowledge and affection. Crowe explained over email that “the limited word choice [in the Amen and Hallelujah arias] and those two words both containing relatively broad, powerful meanings meant that the affect had to be gleaned not from text but from the music written to undergird it.” Crowe’s musical instincts are spot-on throughout as he explores each work’s unique character. He tosses off some impressive sudden register shifts, including an unexpected dip into chest voice following chiming, upper-register melismas at the end of Croft’s “A Hymn On Divine Music.” Even during the most ornate line of the three Harmonia Sacra pieces, Crowe demonstrates fine diction and consistency of tone.

Robert Crowe

The American-Canadian ensemble Il Furioso partners Crowe with chamber organ and one or two theorbos on each track. The liner notes explain the historical precedent for the double theorbos, but the warm, undulating wash underneath and around Crowe justifies itself on purely sonic terms. The first, unornamented performance of HWV 270 (as opposed to the ornamented version closing the disc) is a great example of the simple but powerful effect of one theorbo doubling the organ’s bass line while another plucks the harmonies. HWV 269 is a superb example of the whole ensemble — singer and instrumentalists — breathing together and feeling the pulse as one. Theorbo sonatas by the obscure Ferraranese composer and theorbo virtuoso Giovanni Pittoni spotlight Il Furioso co-directors Victor Coehlo and David Dolata. Charming excerpts composed by Handel for mechanical musical clock showcase organist Juvenal Correa-Salas.

This reviewer had difficulty with the recording’s audio engineering, such as rumbling on Crowe’s highest notes and some muddiness in the instruments’ lower ranges (even after trying the disc on three sound systems). Those strictly technological issues aside, the origins of these works in private musicking, the spare accompaniment, and the musicians’ sensitive interplay make this a thoroughly intimate affair.

Andrew J. Sammut has written about European classical music as well as American classical music for All About Jazz, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, Early Music America, the IAJRC Journal and his own blog.

Continue Reading

Handel’s Messiah: Parts II & III

Join us for our second annual community sing of parts 2 & 3 of Handel’s Messiah. Two rehearsals take place before the performance which must be attended if you want to participate. The performance is open to anyone who would like to attend. Performance date and time are listed here; please visit our website for more details.

Continue Reading

Working With a Legend: The Path from Juilliard to Les Arts Florissants

Photo courtesy of Les Arts Florissants, view of the pit at Wiener Staatsoper  (violinists shown: Hiro Kurosaki, Edson Scheid, Augusta McKay Lodge and Karen Dekker)

Fifth in our series of guest articles for Early Music Month
by Augusta McKay Lodge

It’s not every day a recent music graduate is invited to be a part of a European tour with one of the world’s top baroque orchestras, Les Arts Florissants. Yet this was exactly the situation in which I found myself upon completion of my studies at Juilliard where I first met Maestro William Christie, orchestra founder and director. Had I imagined such a thing happening, I would’ve cracked the books on my French sooner!

While students, we had thrived off of Mr. Christie’s indefatigable energy, his intense and vivid musicality, and his tough but benevolent expectations. The inspiration and joy of performing with such a renowned musician while sitting as concertmistress and soloist in his Juilliard415 concert will always stand out in my memory. 

photo of Opéra national de Paris / Palais Garnier interior

So I was a bit nervous and unsure what to expect as fellow classmate, Jeffrey Girton, and I headed to Paris this past Christmas to enjoy three months in Europe playing alongside these great musicians. Our first project was Handel’s Jephtha in eight performances at the Opéra national de Paris / Palais Garnier. 

But the moment we played the downbeat of Jephtha’s Overture in our first orchestra rehearsal, the immersion into the work proved completely liberating, digging into the luscious full sound that embodies Les Arts Florissants and being able to fit right into a group that played so unanimously with such a warm, enveloping sound. And the musicians were friendly and warm, further putting me at ease. We were led by concertmaster Hiro Kurosaki, whom I admire greatly for his clear and decisive leadership, outward musicality, and kind spirit. The cast for Jephtha was marvelous, including stellar artists Ian Bostridge and Katherine Watson. Between the gripping dynamics of the singers and Mr. Christie, I could look out into the front row of the audience and see them in tears night after night. 

Next up – tour to Vienna, Barcelona, Madrid, and Pamplona for performances of Handel’s Ariodante. As I write this, we are still on tour and today will be our fourth performance of Ariodante at the Wiener Staatsoper. 

All in all, the music is incredible, playing under Mr. Christie most inspiring and not least, having made so many wonderful new friends in the orchestra – it has been one of the best experiences of my life!

Be sure to check back at earlymusicamerica.org tomorrow (March 23, 2018) for part II of our McKay Lodge sisters series. We’ll hear from Georgina McKay Lodge, who is concurrently traveling in Europe during March 2018, taking baroque viola lessons from renowned teachers like Shunske Sato, the 33-year-old Japanese concertmaster of the Netherlands Bach Society.


Augusta McKay Lodge, photo credit: Natasha Komoda Photography

Augusta McKay Lodge is a native of Oberlin, Ohio. At the age of 25, she has earned a Bachelor of Music from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, a Masters of Music from Indiana University Jacobs School, and a Masters from The Juilliard School in historical performance where she was a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship. While at Juilliard she studied with Cynthia Roberts, Monica Huggett, Elizabeth Blumenstock, and Robert Mealy.

Augusta began her studies early on and continued at the Moscow Central Special Music School. She received honors (Pi Kappa Lambda) from Oberlin Conservatory upon graduation at the age of 19 and spent an exchange semester at Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 2011. Previous teachers include Alexander Kerr, Stanley Ritchie, Marilyn McDonald, Milan Vitek, Johannes Leertouwer, Sophie Gent, and Almita Vamos.

Augusta plays on a Jason Viseltear baroque violin from 2014. Further information to be found at: www.augustamckaylodge.com

Continue Reading

Master Works of Lent

Featuring artists from Maine, St Mary Schola, hailed as “one of the most finely polished choirs in Portland” by music critic Allan Kozinn, is Maine’s only professional early music ensemble.

Schola will present sublime music by Gesualdo: his ‘Tenebrae factae sunt.’ These motets feature some of his most daring harmonies that powerfully depict the last hours of Christ’s life. The Gesualdo pieces will be coupled with later masterworks that are in the a cappella tradition: a sublime motet by Josef Rheinberger and the famous ‘Beati Quorum Via’ by C. V. Stanford.

Concluding the program are two great Bach cantata arias from ‘Ich habe genug’ and ‘Vergnügte Ruh’ and an aria from Handel’s ‘Theodora.’ The final work will be ‘Jona,’ an early oratorio by the Italian master Carissimi.

The concert will be performed in Falmouth, ME (5/11) and in Portland, ME at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (5/9) and the Cathedral of Saint Luke (5/13). In addition, is a concert in North Conway, NH presented by the White Mountain Musical Arts (5/18).

Pre-concert talks 30 minutes prior to performances.

Continue Reading

Masterworks of Lent

Featuring artists from Maine, St Mary Schola, hailed as “one of the most finely polished choirs in Portland” by music critic Allan Kozinn, is Maine’s only professional early music ensemble.

Schola will present sublime music by Gesualdo: his ‘Tenebarae factae sunt.’ These motets feature some of his most daring harmonies that powerfully depict the last hours of Christ’s life. The Gesualdo pieces will be coupled with later masterworks that are in the a cappella tradition: a sublime motet by Josef Rheinberger and the famous ‘Beati Quorum Via’ by C. V. Stanford.

Concluding the program are two great Bach cantata arias from ‘Ich habe genug’ and ‘Vergnügte Ruh’ and an aria from Handel’s ‘Theodora.’ The final work will be ‘Jona,’ an early oratorio by the Italian master Carissimi.

The concert will be performed in Falmouth, ME (5/11) and in Portland, ME at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (5/9) and the Cathedral of Saint Luke (5/13). In addition, is a concert in North Conway, NH presented by the White Mountain Musical Arts (5/18).

Pre-concert talks 30 minutes prior to performances.

Continue Reading

Early Music America

Welcome back, please sign in:

Lost your password?
Not a Member? Join Today!
*Current EMA Members & EMAg Subscribers were sent specific instructions from our office on how to set up their new online account. Previous four digit usernames and passwords associated with our old website are no longer valid.
If you did not receive those instructions, please email support@earlymusicamerica.org. Thank you!