Allan Clayton / Lucy Crowe / Benjamin Hulett / Christian Curnyn

Handel: Acis and Galatea

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Handel's Acis and Galatea was composed as a garden entertainment at Cannons, the noble estate where the composer worked in the late 1710s. The Duke of Chandos was its owner and Handel's patron, and the Chandos Anthems were composed during the same period. Acis and Galatea was termed a serenata, a masque, or a little opera; it might also be regarded as a large pastoral cantata that was apparently lightly staged. A garden entertainment might sound like a light work, but the Duke brought in heavy hitters -- John Gay and Alexander Pope both had a hand in the tale of a nymph-shepherd romance, which is enjoyable for anybody -- and in fact the work, in English, is sharp, colorful, and in places imposing. Handel is overflowing with good tunes (the Water Music was also just a couple of years in the past), and the entire work, in a single long act or section, just keeps moving forward with kaleidoscopic effect. Sample the crackling chorus and the following material at the beginning of the second CD for a taste. Unorthodox conductor Christian Curnyn pushes the tempo and generally gives the music a quick, muscular feel, and in this case it is all to the good: if you've heard about this controversial artist and want to start with something that plays to his strengths, start here. The chorus and the soloists of his Early Opera Company sing intelligibly and get the excitement and variety of Handel's realization of this age-old story. All the soloists are strong, and the recording, although it has some strong competition, is highly recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49a
1 3:02
2 5:07
3 0:41
4 5:57
5 2:50
6 0:21
7 4:05
8 0:21
9 6:15
10 0:13
11 5:53
12 2:48

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49a
1 3:55
2 1:11
3 2:51
4 1:01
5 4:55
6 5:10
7 0:19
8 4:15
9 6:53
10 0:26
11 2:13
12 1:17
13 3:01
14 4:25
15 0:25
16 3:42
17 3:04
blue highlight denotes track pick