Joachim Carlos Martini / Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra / Klaus Mertens / Gerlinde Sämann / Knut Schoch

George Frideric Handel: Alexander's Feast

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Handel's Alexander's Feast is a long two-part ode set to an adapted John Dryden poem about the power of music. It barely fits on one CD, and then only with the omission of a short associated concerto. Yet it's shorter than a full-length oratorio, and the conjunction of Handel's music and Dryden's poetry is singularly attractive. The work ought to be at the top rank of Handel hits, but for the present it's perhaps a notch below that. There are plenty of recordings of the work by big English names, and it's questionable how much of a market there is for this slightly German-accented version from the Junge Kantorei and Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra under Joachim Carlos Martini. Yet actually the English diction from this all-German group is strong enough that an anglophone listener can mostly avoid consulting the online texts (which also include a German translation). And the Junge Kantorei, from central Germany (they are not specifically youthful), is a regional choir with church origins that delivers a clear, transcendent sound in the later sections of the works, which ascends toward calm rather than a slam-bang finale. The Naxos label has uncovered any number of these German choirs and shows no signs of exhausting the source. The soloists are not on a par with the athleticism of the leading Handelian singers, but soprano Gerlinde Sämann, has an affecting tone. The bottom line is that there are stronger recordings of Alexander's Feast out there, but this one has an X factor, connected with the musicians' direct response to what they are singing and playing, that makes it worth your time.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Alexander's Feast, HWV 75
1 05:29 Amazon
2 00:55 Amazon
3 04:15 Amazon
4 01:39 Amazon
5 00:52 Amazon
6 02:26 Amazon
7 02:57 Amazon
8 00:36 Amazon
9 04:39 Amazon
10 00:37 Amazon
11 00:59 Amazon
12 02:17 Amazon
13 00:50 Amazon
14 02:14 Amazon
15 00:30 Amazon
16 02:24 Amazon
17 04:33 Amazon
18 03:59 Amazon
19 05:27 Amazon
20 04:06 Amazon
21 02:26 Amazon
22 07:39 Amazon
23 01:28 Amazon
24 02:01 Amazon
25 04:58 Amazon
26 05:02 Amazon
27 00:22 Amazon
28 03:49 Amazon
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