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Theodora Import, Coffret
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Handel: Theodora HWV 68
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Description du produit
Description du produit
MCCREESH P. / GABRIELI CONSORT
Paul McCreesh est un des plus grands chefs baroques actuels. Sa principale qualité est sans nul doute sa perpétuelle recherche d'authenticité. Chaque enregistrement de McCreesh nous permet de renouveler et de moderniser notre vision des partitions. Avec ce Theodora de Haendel, le chef anglais met l'accent sur la profondeur d'écriture et sur la grande facilité du compositeur de varier les effets sans rupture. La finesse de la direction de McCreesh trouve un terrain d'expression exceptionnel. --Pierre Massé
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Neal Davies makes a firm, vicious and cruel Valens. His menace is palpable yet very musical. Paul Agnew's Septimius is the definition of sympathy. He colours his voice vividly to convey his torture, conflicting loyalties as well as his sympathy and love for his friend, and later to convey his stern advice to the Christians "Dread the fruits of Christian folly". The latter was executed with fascinatingly clean runs.
I will struggle not to get carried away with Susan Bickley's RAVISHING Irene! "As with rosy steps the dawn advancing" will stop your breath with its purity, its beauty and the effectiveness of its simplicity. Likewise, "Defend her heav'n" will slow your breath in parallel piety to Bickley's awesome rendition.
The superlatives continue for one of the most endearing countertenors of our time. Robin Blaze's delivery as Didymus is smooth in all respects...vocal skill and drama without a hint of hysterics. None of the so-called 'hoot' to his lovely voice either. His duet with Susan Gritton ("To thee thou glorious son of worth") is rapturously sung and the voices are perfectly matched.
Then Susan Gritton herself: I am not equal to the task of her praise. Suffice it to say that her pure, golden-honeyed tone add painful beauty to technical perfection.
I summon the strength for final praise to the EXCELLENT chorus and Choir Director. "Go gen'rous pious youth" is one of the tracks that I play most frequently. All throughout, however, the chorus is brilliant.
McCreesh and his players have made this into an epic event. Full satisfaction guaranteed.
Handel's Theodora is a towering masterpiece. It would be hard to imagine any serious music lover going through life ignorant of Messiah, the St Matthew Passion, Figaro or Tristan, but I wonder how many know Theodora, which is of the same stature as any of these. It is a big work (longer than Aida) and it is more even in quality than Messiah. It is not really right to single out individual numbers, but the first two arias from Theodora's confidante Irene will be likely to make a big impression on newcomers to the work until even they are surpassed by Theodora's Angels Ever Bright and Fair. The arias of Valens are superb pieces of Handelian swashbuckle, like The Enemy Said from Israel in Egypt or the tremendous Revenge Timotheus Cries from Alexander's Feast. The main choruses are wonderful and the whole work reinforces my growing belief that Handel was the ultimate master of vocal writing.
Morell's libretto seems to me distinctly good, given that it is in the strange lingo that English poetry adopted in the 18th century. It is never ridiculous, and Dryden himself inflicted far worse on Chaucer believing he was 'fortifying' him with 'a correct and splendid diction', more realistically called by Housman 'this impure verbiage'. I personally would not want the poetry too good, because most great poetry does not lend itself to musical setting (as well-intentioned settings of Housman seem to me to prove). Morell provides a workmanlike inner structure for Handel to erect his temple.
The performers are eminent specialists, it is many years since I last heard Theodora, I have no other performance to compare, and I am too grateful for this one to try to criticise. It suits me that vocal cadenzas are kept minimal and that the harpsichord continuo is not obtrusive. I thought I had read somewhere that Handel actually had clarinets for an early performance, but I may be mistaken. As often with Handel it is hard to establish an authoritative version of the score, and alternative endings to Act II are provided.
Will I live to see the day when Theodora is in its rightful place as a central classic of our musical heritage? This set can only help in a big way towards that.
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