Handel: Apollo e Daphne

Handel: Apollo e Daphne
Ensemble Marsyas
Linn Records CKD 543. 69′

Il pastor fido (Overture), HWV8a [22:25]; Arias in F major HWV410/411; Apollo e Dafne HWV122 [40:20]

Handel’s early works, particularly those written during his period in Italy have a very special vitality, musical elegance and sense of melodic delight. The secular cantata  Apollo e Daphne is one such, started in Venice in 1709. but not completed until he briefly moved to Hanover, in 1710, as Court Kapellmeister to the Elector of Hanover. It is the music performed during his time in Hanover that is the focus for this recording from the Irish/Scottish Ensemble Marsyas. Apollo e Daphne lacks an overture, so the curiously lengthy example from Il pastor fido has been included here, although at more than half the length of the cantata it makes for an unnecessary imbalance to the following cantata. That imbalance is further exaggerated by adding two curious Arias in F for wind band between the overture and cantata (here with added percussion), with a segue between the second Aria and the opening recitative of Apollo e Daphne. It’s a rather odd musical construction, but that should not detract from the many delights of this recording.

The silly story of Apollo e Daphne provides many opportunities for Handel’s sense of musical drama to be explored, along with with some gorgeous melodic moments from the two singers and, particularly, from the many solo and obligate instrumental contributions. And it is the latter that make this such an impressive recording.  Continue reading

Bach: Violin Concertos

Bach: Violin Concertos
Cecilia Bernardini, Dunedin Consort, John Butt
Linn. CKD 519. 60′

Concerto for violin and oboe in C minor, BWV 1060R
Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042
Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21
Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041
Concerto for two violins in D minor, BWV 1043

CKD519This is a spectacular CD from the ever excellent Dunedin Consort and their leader, violinist Cecilia Bernardini, this time in a solo role. She opens and closes the programme in partnership, first with her father, the distinguished oboist, Alfredo Bernardini, and then with fellow violinist Huw Daniel. Apart from the short central Sinfonia from the cantata Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, with its exquisite oboe solo, the rest of the nicely symmetrical programme is devoted to the playing of Cecilia Bernardini, with Bach’s E major and A minor violin concertos. And what playing it is. Subtly sensitive, and superbly articulated, she demonstrates a real grasp of Bach’s often complex melodic lines. Her delicacy of tone is matched by her fellow instrumentalists, the chamber-like quality of their playing, and John Butt’s direction and harpsichord continuo playing, being just right for the music, which was almost certainly intended for small-scale performance amongst fellow music lovers. Continue reading