Friday, December 18, 2009

Arne - The Masque of Alfred - Philharmonia Baoque Orch. A McGegan






Arne - The Masque of Alfred - Philharmonia Baoque Orch.
A McGegan

Opera | Eac, flac, cue | no log, cover | 1 CD, 356 MB
July 3, 2007 | Harmonia Mundi | RapidShare



Thomas Arne is best known to most listeners for his charming settings of Shakespeare--songs like "Blow, blow, thou Winter Wind" and "Where the Bee Sucks". But he is also justly famous for a tune that epitomizes England and its heroic spirit: "Rule Brittania". That noble number is the final piece from Alfred, a masque with libretto by David Mallet and James Thomson. This new CD reveals that this work has a lot more to offer than its closing chorus. The music ranges from such simple pastoral songs as "If those who live in shepherd's bow'r", to florid, operatic aria show-stoppers like "Vengeance, O come inspire me", the latter performed with thrilling vigor and accuracy by countertenor David Daniels. In listening to this music, Handel comes to mind quite often, but so does John Gay and his Beggar's Opera. Regardless of the fluctuating style at any particular moment in the piece, we continually marvel at the composer's consistently skillful orchestration. The use of horns in arias so different as "The Shepherd's plain life" and "Vengeance, O come inspire me", the plaintive flute in "Sweet Valley Say Where", and the blazing Baroque trumpets in "Rule Britannia" are all strokes of genius. Nicholas McGegan secures polished and spirited performances from his soloists, chorus, and orchestra, and the sound is close to ideal. --Rad Bennett


CD Content

1. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Allegro Moderato
2. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Andante
3. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Tempo Di Minuetto
4. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Though To A Desert Isle Confin'd
5. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Duet: Then Let Us The Snare Of Ambition Beware
6. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Come Calm Content
7. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Sweet Valley Say Where
8. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Why Beats My Heart With Such Devotion
9. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Trio: Let Not Those Who Love Complain
10. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: If Those Who Live In Shepherd's Bow'r
11. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: A Youth Adorn'd With Ev'ry Art
12. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: From The Dawn Of Early Morning
13. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: As Calms Succeed When Storms Are Past
14. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Hear, Alfred, Hear
15. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Gracious Heav'n, O Hear Me!
16. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Vengeance, O Come Inspire Me!
17. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Though Storms Awhile The Sun Obscure
18. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Dirge: There Honour Comes, A Pilgrim Grey
19. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Recitative: Ah, Me! What Fears Oppress My Throbbing Heart!
20. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Guardian Angels, O Descend
21. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: Arise, Sweet Messenger Of The Morn
22. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: March With A Side Drum
23. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Air: See Liberty, Virtue and Honour Appearing
24. Alfred, masque in 3 acts: Ode: When Britain First At Heav'n's Command


THOMAS AUGUSTINE ARNE

Alfred

Jennifer Smith, Christine Brandes (sopranos); David Daniels (countertenor); Jamie MacDougall (tenor)

Philharmonia Chorale
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Nicholas McGegan

Deutsche Harmonia Mundi- 51314(CD)
Reference Recording - this one

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