The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood - Handel: Alceste, Comus (1990)

The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood - Handel: Alceste, Comus (1990)

The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood - Handel: Alceste, Comus (1990)
EAC FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 73:57 | 411 MB
Genre: Classical, Opera | Label: L'Oiseau-Lyre | Catalog: 421 479-2

According to Christopher Hogwood, in his marvelous biography of Handel, "In the winter of that year [1750], Handel received what was for him an unusual commission. Although closely associated with the London theatre, he wrote very little incidental music for plays. A request from John Rich to provide airs and dances for Smollett's 'Alceste' was undertaken, according to Hawkins, in repayment of a debt to Rich."
Handel composed music for the wedding scene, two dream sequences, Hadean airs which include a rollicking bass aria for Charon ("Ye fleeting shades, I come to fix your final doom!"), and the triumphant return from Hades of Alceste and Heracles. None of the music is sung by the play's principle characters. Probably the best known aria in "Alceste" is "Gentle Morpheus," beautifully sung in this production by English soprano, Dame Emma Kirkby. According to Hogwood, it is one of Handel's best known slumber songs.
Handel seems to have done a bit of borrowing to repay his debt to John Rich. The overture to "Alceste" bears an uncanny resemblance to that which begins "The Triumph of Time and Truth," and other passages resemble music from "Theodora" (which was composed by Handel earlier that year). The tenor solo "Enjoy the sweet Elysian grove" reminds me of an aria from "Giulio Cesare." The chorus "Thrice happy who in life excel" sounds as though it could have come from Bach's "St. Matthew's Passion." However, borrowed Handel is still Handel, and I enjoyed this recording, especially the arias by early music specialists, Dame Emma Kirkby and David Thomas.
Handel's "Comus, or There in the Blissful Shades" was a new musical epilogue to a previously composed masque that enjoyed a long run on the London stage. The original masque in honor of Chastity, "Comus" was written by John Milton in 1634. The sixty-year old Handel composed his epilogue to "Comus" in 1745 while he was recuperating at the country seat of the Earl of Gainsborough. According to Hogwood's biography of Handel, the Earl of Gainsborough himself took part in the masque, and the music "shows a tactful regard on Handel's part for the Earl's limited abilities."
Christopher Hogwood's Academy of Ancient Music performs up to its usual high standards in this recording. "Alceste" and "Comus" are minor Handel, but still well worth your time.

The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood - Handel: Alceste, Comus (1990)

Track List:

Alceste, HWV45
1. Overture
2. Grand entrée
3. Recitative: Ye happy people
4. Soli and Chorus: Triumph, Hymen in the pair
5. Solo and Chorus: Still caressing, and caress'd
6. Aria: Ye swift minutes as ye fly
7. Chorus: O bless, ye powers above
8. Aria: Gentle Morpheus, son of night
9. Aria: Ye fleeting shades, I come
10. Chorus: Thrice happy who in life excel
11. Aria: Enjoy the sweet Elysian grove
12. Chorus: Thrice happy
13. Come Fancy, empress of the brain
14. Symphony - He comes, he rises from below
15. Chorus: All hail, thou mightly son of Jove!
16. Symphony
17. Recitative: From high Olympus' top
18. Aria: Tune your harps, all ye Nine - First dance
19. First dance/The last dance/ Chorus: - Triumph, thou glorious son of Jove
(57:12)

Comus, HWV44
20. Air: There in blissful shades and bow'rs
21. Chorus: Happy, happy, happy plains!
22. Air: There sweetest flowers of mingled hue
23. Chorus: Happy, happy, happy plains!
24. Air: There youthful Cupid, high advanc'd
25. Chorus: Happy, happy, happy plains
(16:45)

Performers:
Alceste
EMMA KIRKBY, Soprano I
JUDITH NELSON, Soprano II
MARGARET CABLE, Mezzo-Soprano
PAUL ELLIOTT, Tenor
DAVID THOMAS, Bass
Christina Pound, Soprano
Catherine Denly, Mezzo-Soprano
Rogers Covey-Crump, Tenor
Christopher Keyte, Bass

Comus
PATRIZIA KWELLA, Soprano
MARGARET CABLE, Mezzo-Soprano
DAVID THOMAS, Bass

THE ACADEMY OF ANCIENT MUSIC
on authentic instruments
directed by CHRISTOPHER HOGWOOD

Exact Audio Copy V1.3 from 2. September 2016

EAC extraction logfile from 19. April 2018, 3:08

Christopher Hogwood / Handel - Alceste & Comus

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