Notes & Reviews:
This recording was prompted by a happy source discovery. In 2005 a music antiquarian offered for sale a hitherto almost unknown copyist's version of Mendelssohn's arrangement of Handel's dramatic work, which probably was made for the first English performance of the arrangement in 1869. The Handel Society in Gottingen acquired the source with the purpose of making known this arrangement and the goal was pursued at the Gottingen Handelfestpiele through the first modern performance of the work, an edition and the recording.
BBC Music Magazine
While no-one nowadays would suggest that Handel's score needs such additions, Mendelssohn was a man of considerable taste, who made his changes with the best possible motives. In 'Hush ye pretty warbling choir'... Mendelssohn's luminous chords have their own elfin magic to replace Handel's quirkier birdsong. Nicholas McGegan sways a light baton over the whole, and both his players and soloists are good, with a scrupulously well-trained choir in attendance.
Gramophone Classical Music Guide
The virtues of Acis and Galatea were clear enough more than a century later for the 19-year-old Mendelssohn to arrange the work for the Berlin Sing-Akademie in 1828-29 (with a German version of the libretto prepared by his sister Fanny). One might uncharitably (but accurately) criticise that the teenage Mendelssohn's feverish excitement at discovering Handel led to him throwing everything he could (almost including the kitchen sink, so it seems) at the music. Unlike Mozart's more discreet and softer reorchestration of Acis (1788), there is an intense amount of intervention in Mendelssohn's orchestral score, which is tailored for a full-scale symphony orchestra and large chorus... .The NDR Choir are jovial or doleful as the music requires. McGegan directs with liveliness, and it's hard to imagine this arrangement receiving a better advocate. It's bombastic and clumsy in comparison to Handel's delightful original, but the young Mendelssohn's perspective is entertaining.
The most amusing effects are huge bursts of brass and timpani explosions associated with Polyphemus, who is sung with gusto by Wolfe Matthias Friedrich. McGegan directs with liveliness, and it's hard to imagine this arrangement receiving a better advocate.
The happy coincidence of Handel and Mendelssohn anniversaries - the 250th of Handel's death, the 200th of Mendelssohn's birth - make this a timely issue. Julia Kleiter's enchanting Galatea, Christoph Prégardien's virile Acis and Wolf Matthias Friedrich's slightly po-faced Polyphemus are superb stylists.
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Works DetailsHandel, George Frideric : Acis and Galatea, HWV 49
- Performers: Wolf Friedrich (Bass); Julia Kleiter (Soprano); Christoph Prégardien (Tenor); Michael Slattery (Tenor)
- Ensemble: Göttingen Festival Orchestra
- Period Time: Baroque
- Form: Cantata/Oratorio