Gardiner conducts L'allegro, Tamerlano & Ballet Music

Gardiner conducts L'allegro, Tamerlano & Ballet Music

John Eliot Gardiner, Derek Ragin, English Baroque Soloists, Jane Findlay, Jennifer Smith, Maldwyn Davies, Marie McLaughlin, Martyn Hill, Michael Chance, Michael Ginn, Monteverdi Choir, Nancy Argenta, Nigel Robson, Patrizia Kwella, René Schirrer, Stephen Varcoe


Album review

“This six-disc set of music by George Frederick Handel presents an unlikely combination of genres: the oratorio L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; the opera Tamerlano; and ballet music from Alcina, Il pastor fido, and Terpsichore. Each is surely a masterpiece in its form, but it is odd to have such heterodox works grouped together. Aside from the composer, the common thread here is conductor John Eliot Gardiner with his orchestra, the English Baroque Soloists, and the Monteverdi Choir. Baroque specialist Gardiner turns in apt performances, all recorded in the 1980s. His L'Allegro is mighty and monumental, with lovely lyrical touches; his Tamerlano deeply expressive and highly dramatic, with astounding vocal writing; and his trio of ballets catchy, colorful, and buoyantly rhythmic. The oratorio and the opera have large and entirely different casts, and amazingly, both casts are superb: Patrizia Kwella, Marie McLaughlin, and Martyn Hill being the standouts in the oratorio and Derek Ragin and especially the clarion Nancy Argenta being the standouts in the opera. Recorded in warm, clear early digital sound by Erato, this set will appeal to any Handel fan who doesn't already have one or more of these works or is looking for excellent recordings of any of them.”

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