Handel at Vauxhall: Vol 1

Handel at Vauxhall: Vol 1
London Early Opera
Bridget Cunningham, Daniel Moult, Kirsty Hopkins, Sophie Bevan
Signum SIGCD428. 48’18

Preceding the two recordings of Handel in Italy (reviewed here), London Early Opera explored the music of Handel (and his contemporaries Thomas Arne and John Hebden) as it might have been performed at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Pleasure Gardens like Vauxhall were a focus for musical, and other entertainments in 17th and 18th century London. This fascinating programme (but very short, at just over 48 minutes) is based on a conjectural reconstruction of part of a typical evening at Vauxhall in the early 1740s, and includes a wide variety of music including orchestral, organ and vocal music.  Continue reading

Et in Arcadia ego: Italian Cantatas and Sonatas. Concentus VII

Et in Arcadia ego: Italian Cantatas and Sonatas
Concentus VII
Resonus RES10142  67’16

Handel Mi Palpita il Cor, Pensieri notturni di Filli, Sonata pour l’Hautbois; Alessandro Scarlatti Filli tu sai s’io t’amo; Francesco Mancini Recorder Sonata 1 in d; Antonio Lotti Ti sento, O Dio bendato.

Emily Atkinson (soprano), Louise Strickland (recorder), Belinda Paul (oboe & recorder), Amélie Addison (cello) & Martin Knizia (harpsichord)

This CD, from a relatively new London-based group, explores music performed in the Roman Academy of Arcadia (Pontificia Accademia degli Arcadi).  It was founded in 1690, a year after the death of, and in homage to, Queen Christina of Sweden, a major patron of the arts who moved to Rome after her 1654 abdication.  The Academy took its inspiration from an idealised world of rural innocence, and advocated a simple and direct style in music and poetry. The two opening Handel’s cantatas, the pastoral Pensieri notturni di Filli and the more dramatic Mi Palpita il Cor, demonstrate the attractive and approachable style of his early years in Italy.  Music from Naples and Venice complete the programme.

Alessandro Scarlatti’s cantata Bella s’io t’amo includes a recently discovered opening recitative – the arias are notable for the use of obligato recorder, unusual in Scarlatti’s cantatas. The CD notes include English translations of the texts, which generally focus on the complicated love lives and amours of the likes of Clori and Phyllis.

One of the delights of the cantatas on this CD is that they are accompanied by recorders or oboe as well as the harpsichord and cello continuo group.  Louise Strickland and Belinda Paul demonstrated excellent articulation and use of baroque ornaments in their contributions to the bucolic sound world, and in the two instrumental sonatas, for oboe and recorder respectively that contrast with the vocal works.

The continuo playing by Amélie Addison and Martin Knizia is sensitive and entirely appropriate for the period and genre.  The simple harpsichord realisations are particularly welcome – far too many harpsichords over-do continuo realisations.

Emily Atkinson has an attractive and clear voice, her gentle inflexions adding to the Arcadian mood of the cantatas. Only in final aria of Pensieri notturni di Filli does the voice begin to show signs of struggle with Handel’s tricky flurry of notes.

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[https://andrewbensonwilson.org/2015/04/03/et-in-arcadia-ego-italian-cantatas-and-sonatas-concentus-vii/]