BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews -

Acis and Galatea

Jeremy Budd, Grace David­son, Stu­art Young, Mark Do­bell, Si­mon Ber­ridge; The Six­teen/harry Christo­phers

Coro COR16169 89:03 mins (2 discs) Record­ings of ★an­del’s early pastoral ser­e­nata come in var­i­ous shapes and sizes. In his liner note ★arry Christo­phers in­sists that he has stuck pretty well to the forces ★an­del would have had for the orig­i­nal per­for­mance at Can­nons, the home of the Duke of Chan­dos, when Acis was pre­miered there in 1718: just five singers and an or­ches­tra of seven, to which Christo­phers has added a cou­ple more con­tinuo play­ers. The re­sult is none the worse for (nor alone in) be­ing small-scale, though the slightly over-res­o­nant acous­tic of St Au­gus­tine’s, Kil­burn, tends to swamp the minia­ture forces: the sound lacks im­me­di­acy and its sur­face is dull.

Taken at quite a lick, the over­ture is typ­i­cal of the con­duc­tor’s ap­proach. With­out un­due hurry, he keeps the de­light­ful score bounc­ing mer­rily along; the in­stru­men­tal­ists sup­ply ex­pert play­ing. There are cer­tainly ver­sions with more lav­ishly-voiced soloists. Grace David­son’s Galatea of­fers a small but pretty so­prano and Jeremy Budd’s Acis is crisply ar­tic­u­lated and emo­tion­ally en­gaged, while Stu­art Young en­joys the comic­grotesque pos­si­bil­i­ties of the giant Polyphe­mus – an in­ter­pre­ta­tion that is gen­er­ally over the top in the right way, if at times roughly han­dled.

Mark Do­bell’s Da­mon is healthily lyri­cal, though one or two of the runs nearly run away from him. Si­mon Ber­ridge’s at­trac­tive light tenor is nicely scaled to Cori­don.

The en­sem­ble sup­plies good dic­tion for the cho­ruses: ‘Wretched Lovers!’ has a madri­gal-like in­ti­macy while the cen­tral trio give ‘The flocks shall leave the moun­tains’ an ap­pro­pri­ate level of drama. Ge­orge Hall PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★


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