SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

HANDEL: Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day; Organ Concerto No. 13; “Zadok the Priest” Coronation Anthem – Soloists/Coro della Radio Svizzera/ I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis, cond. – Arts

It’s interesting to hear a Handel work that has similarities to Messiah but is on a more secular subject.

Published on January 26, 2009

HANDEL: Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day; Organ Concerto No. 13; “Zadok the Priest” Coronation Anthem – Soloists/Coro della Radio Svizzera/ I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis, cond. – Arts
HANDEL: Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day; Organ Concerto No. 13; “Zadok the Priest” Coronation Anthem – Soloists/Coro della Radio Svizzera/ I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis, cond. – Arts multichannel SACD 47739-8, 61:35 *****  [Distr. by Albany]:

This may seem a rather odd combination of three works to put on one disc, but the reason is that Handel was known to have programmed all three of them together in concerts he gave in London.  The big ode to the Patron Saint of Music is of course the major work here. There is only one other SACD of the work which I haven’t heard, but this release strikes me as a completely successful performance and surround sound recording.

Handel used a text by Dryden, starting with the Creation and St. Cecilia inventing all the various instruments. Handel pulls out all the stops to set Dryden’s high-spirited words to music, and makes full use of the soprano and tenor soloists, chorus, orchestra and pipe organ in doing so. Though the chorus members are mostly from the Italian canton of Switzerland, their English, as well as that of the soloists, is excellent and they are fairly easy to understand. (However, the note booklet fails to provide the texts.)  The closing fugal Grand Chorus is thrilling in its depiction of the de-tuning of the world.  It’s interesting to hear a Handel work that has similarities to Messiah but is on a more secular subject.

The Organ Concerto No. 13 is subtitled “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale” and is one of the most popular of all the composer’s organ concertos. This has to be the best performance in surround I’ve heard, just full of energy and spirit.   As to Zadok the Priest we have here perhaps the speediest and most exciting of the many recordings of that work to date. (I recall from my work at WGBH in Boston it was the favorite piece of the producer of the Boston Symphony broadcasts.)  I can understand why – it’s totally thrilling – especially in this involving surround sound iteration recorded in the auditorium of Radio Svizzera.  When the chorus comes in with “God Save the King!” the trumpets, organ and kettle drums all cut loose for a truly majestic piece of coronation music and a smash conclusion to this SACD.

 - John Sunier




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