- Simon Birchall
- Charles Daniels
- Lynne Dawson
- Catherine Denley (Mezzo Soprano)
- Michael George
- Claron McFadden (Soprano)
- Charles Pott (Baritone)
- Tom Raskin (Tenor)
Notes & Reviews:
'This is a landmark in recording history ... Self-recommending, I think' (The Sunday Times)
'All Handelians will want this set' (Gramophone)
'An outstanding recording... an enthralling experience' (Choir & Organ)
'A winner... one of those experiences where you know almost from the first chord that an enjoyable and rewarding evening lies ahead of you. The cast is on top form' (Early Music)
'A very well sung and very welcome appearance of one of Handel's most rarely performed works... For her [Lynne Dawson] interpretation alone the recording is worth buying' (Classic CD)
'We may be grateful that yet another glory has been restored by Robert King and his accomplished forces' (The Times)
'King and his musicians approach the piece with vitality and affection and, in so doing, carried me along from start to finish' (BBC Music Magazine)
'Lynne Dawson y rayonne en princesse meurtrie; Catherine Denley trouve ice l'un de ses meilleurs emploie. Bel et bon orchestre, choeur impeccable. Pour quelques grands moments et tout un acte de béatitude, tendez les deux oreilles à Alexander Balus' (Diapason, France)
'The set deserves a warm welcome from all Handelians' (Hi Fi News)
'A landmark in discographic history. We must be grateful for so splendid a debut recording. All the soloists are excellent' (American Record Guide)
Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Alexander Balus has never been one of Handel's more popular oratorios. That's mainly because its plot is by modern standards lacking in drama and motivation, and accordingly doesn't call forth the vein of his music that nowadays has the strongest appeal. It's essentially a sentimental drama, in which the interest centres on the characters' emotional reactions to their situations, amatory, political and religious, and these are rather static in the first two acts but much more powerful in the more eventful third with the deaths of both Alexander and Ptolomee.
Here we have a very capable, idiomatic, sensibly cast performance under Robert King. The choruses are especially accomplished. The New College Choir, supported by men from The King's Consort Choir, is confident, brighttoned and vigorous, clean in line and well balanced. Lynne Dawson sings beautifully in her firm and resonant soprano and her usual poised and unaffected style. Her singing of the lamenting music in the final act is particularly moving.
Cleopatra has a couple of duets, one with some attractive interplay with the secondary character Aspasia, sung with much assurance by Claron McFadden. As Alexander, Catherine Denley sings with much confidence and directness in music that isn't all of special individuality.
Jonathan is sung fluently and warmly, but very plainly, by Charles Daniels. Lastly there's Michael George, who's ideally suited to the villainous Ptolomee, with his forceful (but always musical) manner and the touch of blackness in his tone. The orchestral playing is accomplished, and often rather carefully shaped. The recitative moves at a steady but natural pace; ornamentation is generally modest. All Handelians will want to acquire this set, and others should not be put off by the indifferent press Alexander Balus has received from time to time.
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Works DetailsHandel, George Frideric : Alexander Balus
- Performers: Simon Birchall; Charles Daniels; Lynne Dawson; Catherine Denley (Mezzo Soprano); Michael George; Claron McFadden (Soprano); Charles Pott (Baritone); Tom Raskin (Tenor)
- Conductor: Robert King
- Notes: 04/11/1997-04/19/1997
- Running Time: 2 min. 51 sec.
- Period Time: Baroque
- Form: Cantata/Oratorio
- Written: 1747