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<<  -- 2 --  Peter Dale    A sense of occasion


Fascinating though all this contextualising is -- and particularly revealing of another kind of dynasty in the form of a succession of English musicians with a peculiar sensitivity to word setting and a special knack of suggesting the mysterious and the sacramental beneath all the ceremonial glitter -- this disc must stand or fall essentially on the performance of the four great Handel anthems. The King shall Rejoice [listen -- disc 2 track 5, 0:00-1:00] has a high-stepping excitement about it that almost subverts its own dignity, and that is delightful. Let Thy Hand be Strengthened shows the Choir of The King's Consort (as well as the Consort itself) achieving an extraordinary unanimity of tone and precision of ensemble, where even the graces sound like one voice [listen -- disc 1 track 13, 0:20-0:27]. Zadok treads mysteriously, then mightily [listen -- disc 1 track 16, 1:13-1:47], only to resolve into the leaping lords and ladies of the grandest of what is still essentially a Minuet [listen -- disc 1 track 16, 2:14-3:14]. Robert King introduces a small but very telling rhetorical pause between 'and all the people rejoiced ... and said' into what must be one of the most impressive but unmannered performances you are likely to hear.

This disc captures the sense of occasion without the music itself becoming merely occasional. Here is pomp without pomposity, excitement without loss of dignity, and -- perhaps best of all -- a sense of hushed awe. It's very well done indeed.

Copyright © 25 December 2001 Peter Dale, Danbury, Essex, UK







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