Han­del

BBC Music Magazine - - Choral & Song Reviews -

Ode for St Ce­cilia’s Day

Carolyn Samp­son (so­prano), Ian Bostridge (tenor); Pol­ish Ra­dio Choir; Dunedin Con­sort/john Butt

Linn CKD 578 61:15 mins

To mark the 15th an­niver­sary of Kraków’s Mis­te­ria Paschalia fes­ti­val, its artis­tic di­rec­tor John Butt led and recorded ★an­del’s Ode for St Ce­cilia’s Day. Butt brought star soloists and the Dunedin Con­sort with him, creat­ing an in­can­des­cent per­for­mance – by his artists. The Pol­ish Ra­dio Choir couldn’t quite keep up.

De­spite missed mo­ments, you should catch Carolyn Samp­son,

Ian Bostridge and the Dunedin in this ★an­del master­piece. They glide through the score in ut­terly rav­ish­ing ways that tran­scend ri­val record­ings, as when cel­list Jonathan Man­son takes flight in ‘What pas­sion can­not mu­sic raise and quell!’; Samp­son’s soar­ing sil­ver tones in re­sponse have a nu­mi­nous qual­ity ab­sent from her ear­lier record­ing of this mu­sic for ★ype­r­ion. Butt’s tem­pos are dar­ingly slow and his si­lences per­fectly timed, bring­ing out the terse beauty of ★an­del’s vo­cal and in­stru­men­tal lines. Bostridge bonds mu­sic to word-mean­ing so per­sua­sively that they be­come a sin­gle heart­felt ut­ter­ance, as in ‘The Trum­pet’s Loud Clam­our’.

The Pol­ish Ra­dio Choir is bold and pre­cise, but re­mote. ‘The Trum­pet’s Loud Clam­our’ is about yield­ing to war’s mad­ness; this the band does, with a bois­ter­ous­ness that bor­ders on pure noise, while the choir just gets louder. Con­sider also the Ode’s fi­nale: af­ter a tow­er­ing call-and-re­sponse be­tween so­prano and trum­pet, the choir’s stately ho­mophony feels an­ti­cli­mac­tic.

It’s not wrong, but given what the soloists just did it’s not right ei­ther. Yet the strengths of this record­ing vastly out­weigh its weak­nesses. It con­cludes with a crisp ren­di­tion of ★an­del’s Con­certo Grosso in A mi­nor. Berta Jon­cus PER­FOR­MANCE

RECORD­ING

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