Wednesday, January 29, 2003

[63.1] ODES TO JOY

Album: Choral Works
Composer: Georg Friederich Handel
Conductor: Sir David Willcocks
Performer: Elsie Morison, Jacqueline Delman, et al.
Orchestra: St Anthony Singers, Philomusica of London
Label: Double Decca 4602872
Number of Discs: 2

Two classic re-issues for the price of one. 'L'Allegro il penseroso ed il moderato' brings together Sir David Willcocks, some fluent chamber players and the illustrious tenor Peter Pears - not the most orthodox of Handel interpreters in an era of so-called authentic performance, but here appropriately sonorous.

The greater feast, however, is the 'Ode for St Cecelia', whose spiritual patronage of the sonic arts first really took off in the seventeenth century and has not looked back since. April Cantelo and Choir of King's College Cambridge offer an inspired and inspiring account of a rich, celebratory and gorgeously double-rhythmed delight.

For me this digital transfer (the original LP was Decca 436-259-2, still worth getting if you can) doesn't quite capture the warmth and intensity of a recording that dates back some 40 years. As far as I can detect there has been no re-engineering, and at times the result is a little thin. Never mind: set your graphic equaliser to work, turn up the volume to get the full effect of those trumpet blasts and prepare yourself for a carnival of unashamed Handelian jollity.

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