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Handel: Admeto, Re di Tessaglia HWV22

Handel: Admeto, Re di Tessaglia HWV22


Marie Arnet (Alceste), David Bates (Trasimede), Kirsten Blaise (Antigona), Tim Mead (Admeto), Wolf Matthias Friedrich (Meraspe) & Andrew Radley (Orindo)

FestspielOrchester Gottingen & Mamu Dance Theatre, Nicholas McGegan (conductor) & Doris Dörrie (stage director)

Solo dance and choreography: Tadashi Endo

For Handel’s Admeto, Oscar-nominated film director Doris Dörrie – winner of the 2009 Edinburgh International Festival’s prestigious Herald Angel Award – returns to her beloved subject of Japan. In vividly coloured and brilliantly realized set pieces, one of Handel’s most popular operas receives a stunning transformation into the stylishly ritualized world of samurai culture.

Bonus: Baroque and Butoh

Sound format: DTS-HD MA 5.1, PCM 2.0

Picture: 16:9, HD

Subtitles: Italian (original language), English, German, French / Bonus: English

Booklet: English, German, French

Total running time: 202 mins (Opera: 181 mins + Bonus: 21 mins)

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Bach, J S: Mass in B minor, BWV232

Bach, J S: Mass in B minor, BWV232


Lydia Teuscher (soprano), Ida Falk Winland (soprano), Tim Mead (countertenor), Samuel Boden (tenor), Neal Davies (bass)

Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen

Jonathan Cohen talks to Presto's David Smith about the recording here.

Arcangelo and their inspirational director Jonathan Cohen, one of the brightest stars in the Early Music galaxy, present Bach’s great masterpiece in a glorious new recording made following a thrilling performance at the Tetbury festival.

Arcangelo are still a relatively new ensemble, but have already won one Gramophone Award and been nominated for another. The members of the choir and orchestra are performers of dazzling technical ability with a passion for faithful interpretation that goes far beyond historical understanding. Their previous recordings for Hyperion have been praised for their liveliness, colour and full string sound. In this new recording these aspects of their performance are alchemically combined with a feeling of the great solemnity of Bach’s monumental achievement.

“Cohen's rejection of the generic, within a grand and ravishing overview, is what propels an overwhelming sense here that this reading deserves to be taken very seriously...The work infrequently speaks with such gracefulness, freedom or conviction.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2014

“One might expect Cohen’s Arcangelo to opt for minimal personnel — although the trumpety movements suggest spectacular forces — but his choir of 20 can convey the inward spirituality of Et incarnatus est and the laudatory éclat of the Gloria and Et resurrexit with equal efficacy.” Sunday Times, 23rd November 2014

“Cohen's take side-steps Joshua Rifkin's premise that it should be sung one-to-a-part and fields a choir of 20...Cohen announces the Credo at an invigoratingly purposeful lick...Tim Mead's eloquently restrained Agnus Dei is crowned by a Dona nobis pacem whose blazing grandiloquence grips.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014 ****

“Gradually the ear responds to Jonathan Cohen’s musically intelligent mix of period and mainstream traditions, delivered by top musicians...This account will please, especially, anyone trapped between the extremes of Bach performance practice, unsure how to choose a B minor mass from the numerous options on offer.” The Observer, 30th November 2014 ****

“A performance that couldn’t be bettered.” MusicWeb International, April 2015

“[the] lines are finely shaped and their textures sound rich rather than heavy. This is a superbly conceived and executed set, absolutely joyous and gloriously colourful” Early Music Today, May 2015 *****

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


Lucy Crowe (soprano), Tim Mead (counter-tenor), Andrew Staples (tenor), Christopher Purves (baritone)

Le Concert d’Astrée Orchestre et Chœur, Emmanuelle Haïm

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Emmanuelle Haïm has established herself as one of the world’s leading performers, conductors and interpreters of Baroque repertoire, not only with Le Concert d’Astrée, the ensemble she founded in 2000, but with several of the world’s greatest orchestras. Known for her fresh and expressive approach to Baroque music, she has appeared as a guest conductor with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Berliner Philharmoniker. With her own ensemble she has garnered critical acclaim and several international awards, including Victoires de la Musique Classique, ECHOs, Gramophone Awards, and Grammy nominations.

For this English-language recording of Handel’s masterwork Messiah, Haïm is joined by the orchestra and chorus of Le Concert d’Astrée, as well as four outstanding English singers – Lucy Crowe, Tim Mead, Andrew Staples and Christopher Purves.

“The choir and orchestra of Le Concert d’Astrée trot along with the trim rhythms now customary in “authentic” performances of Handel. Occasionally they slice their notes too abruptly for comfort...Among the soloists, Lucy Crowe and Christopher Purves are the most consistently pleasurable.” The Times, 28th November 2014 ***

“The soloists rise to Haïm’s challenge in fine style; all show great flexibility in adapting their voices to expressing a far wider range of emotions than Messiah is normally thought to involve...This is definitely a Messiah worth listening to; lively and varied, it really is a new injection of life into an old favourite work and a recording that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the existing benchmarks.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 8th December 2014

“The delivery of the choruses is crisply focused and shaped impressively, Haïm sensibly opts to hire top-notch English freelancers...There are a small number of occasions when Haïm could have let the music speak more naturally for itself...Nevertheless, the fusion of dramatic mood, orchestral texture and an inspired soloist often pays off handsomely.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2014

“the vocal ornamentation, as sung by the outstanding solo quartet...sounds entirely stylish and idiomatic...Haïm’s choir for this work, too, comprises mainly native English-speakers, and it shows in their trenchant diction. Their Hallelujah is magnificent...One of the most dramatic and exciting Messiahs in recent memory.” Sunday Times, 14th December 2014

“Haïm directs the music with the same sort of Gallic lightness and grace that she absorbed during her early years with the French group Les Arts Florissants...The result is not as exhilarating as some, and sometimes a touch fussy, but Haïm finds expression wherever she looks and Le Concert d’Astrée respond keenly.” Financial Times, 20th December 2014 ***

“Haïm herself proves broadly sensitive to tempo...and balance has been excellently managed in what is a resonant acoustic. Le Concert d’Astrée's chorus numbers 20...they also keep light on their collective feet. The 26-strong orchestra, too, supplies vitality as well as solemnity and flexibility.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 ****

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Handel: The Triumph of Time and Truth

Handel: The Triumph of Time and Truth


Sophie Bevan, Mary Bevan (sopranos), Tim Mead (countertenor), Ed Lyon (tenor), William Berger (bass)

Ludus Baroque, Richard Neville-Towle

In their third disc for Delphian, Ludus Baroque and five stellar soloists bring to life Handel’s rarely heard final oratorio, a remarkable Protestant re-casting of a work written 50 years earlier to a text by the young composer’s Roman patron Cardinal Pamphili. Compelled by Time and Truth to accept the divine order of change and decay, Beauty ultimately gives way – as with the aging composer himself – to an assertion of redemption by good works, reflected in the incorporation of choruses Handel had written for the Foundling Hospital.

The resulting work, neglected by centuries of scholarship on account of its hybrid origins, here proves an extraordinary feast of riches, and the ideal vehicle for Richard Neville-Towle’s carefully assembled cast of exceptional soloists, vigorous, intelligent chorus and an orchestra made up from some of the UK’s leading period instrumentalists. Formed in 1998 under the direction of Richard Neville-Towle, this ‘crack group of British early musickers’ (The New York Times) prides itself on the exuberance and energy of its performances, specialising in great works of the early music repertoire. With sisters Mary and Sophie Bevan (the latter having just been shortlisted for an RPS award) jousting with one another in the roles of Deceit and Beauty, these discs make for revelatory listening.

“finely shaped, unflamboyant conducting from Neville-Towle, gracious playing and some very fine singing. Sophie Bevan plays Beauty in what is arguably her finest recording to date. Her sister Mary as Deceit sounds at once seductive and cunning, while Ed Lyon is all elegant bravado and swagger as Pleasure.” The Guardian, 26th June 2014

“the music of The Triumph of Time and Truth, Handel’s last oratorio before he died in 1759, is of such strength, freshness and radiance – notably so in this buoyant, scrupulously characterised performance by the early-music group Ludus Baroque and a glorious line-up of soloists.” The Telegraph, 17th June 2014 ****

“The small orchestra playing is stylish and characterful...Excellent, spirited singing from both choir and soloists throughout – Ludus Baroque's most valuable Handel recording so far confirms that this unclassifiable, peculiar work is well worth revisiting.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2014

“Both Bevans sing with lustrous tone, natural agility and exquisite decorations, Lyon and William Berger (Time) with taut elegance and Tim Mead (Counsel) with immaculate poise. Though Neville-Towle's tempos sometimes waver, this is a performance of great warmth.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2014 ****

“Graceful singing from a fine British cast — Sophie Bevan outstanding...— reveal a work of profound beauty.” The Times, 16th August 2014 ****

“Keep an eye on this Ludus/Delphian partnership.” International Record Review, September 2014

“Ludus Baroque under Richard Neville-Towle gives a fine account of the Overture … The singers taking the solo parts are excellent and the balance superb...There is so much first class music to be heard in this rarely-performed oratorio.” MusicWeb International, 13th October 2014

“A delight from start to finish. Instrumental contributions are crisp and stylish, the young cast are excellent (especially scene-stealers Mary and Sophie Bevan), and the production comes across with energy and panache.” Classical Music *****

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Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di Poppea

Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di Poppea


Sonya Yoncheva (Poppée), Max Emanuel Cencic (Néron), Ann Hallenberg (Octavie), Tim Mead (Othon), Paul Whelan (Sénèque) & Amel Brahim-Djelloul (Drusilla)

Le Concert d'Astrée, Emmanuelle Haïm (conductor) & Jean-François Sivadier (stage director)

One Roman emperor is not enough for conductor Emmanuelle Haïm. After Julius Caesar in Handel’s opera –recorded for Virgin Classics DVD at Paris’ Palais Garnier with Lawrence Zazzo as Giulio Cesare and Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra – she now brings a ruler of less illustrious reputation: Nero (Nerone) in Monteverdi’s sensuous and cruel story of love, ambition and politics, L’incoronazione di Poppea.

This production, recorded in 2012 at the exquisite opera house in Lille, is by the French director Jean-François Sivadier; he was also responsible for La traviata in 2011 at Aix-en-Provence, a staging which starred Natalie Dessay and can be seen on a Virgin Classics DVD.

In Poppea, Sivadier takes a relatively minimalist approach, with the characters in an eclectic mixture of modern and Ancient Roman dress. Nerone, here an almost punk-like figure, with peroxide blond spiky hair, is portrayed by star countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic, who has recently enjoyed major successes with his Virgin Classics recordings of Vinci’s rare opera Artaserse and a recital programme Venezia. Cencic has already appeared on a Virgin Classics DVD of Poppea, conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm’s mentor William Christie, recorded in Madrid and released in 2012, but there he played Poppea’s discarded lover, Ottone, a role taken in Lille by British countertenor Tim Mead. Poppea herself is sung here by the glamorous Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva, who won Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition in 2010 and is a former member of William Christie’s academy for young singers, Le Jardin des Voix.

Speaking of his approach to the opera, Jean-François Sivadier has said: “Nero’s court is cut off from the world, a place ruled by terror and paranoia, a family in which each member is full of ambiguities. I wanted the audience to be constantly aware of the interdependence of all the characters: each event takes the course of history in a new direction; it is like a chain of chemical reactions between bodies that are sensitive to the slightest change.”

As the French newspaper Les Échos wrote: “The excitement, the passions, the impulses and the hatred to be found in this Shakespearean story are all the more intense [for the sobriety of Sivadier’s approach]. Sonya Yoncheva has no trouble seducing both Nerone and the audience, thanks to her voluptuous roundness of voice and physique. A feline lover, she knows how to flash her claws when she wishes to depose her rival Ottavia, the unhappy woman who, in Ann Hallenberg, finds an interpreter as superb for the nobility of her singing as for her expressions of sorrow ... Max Emanuel Cencic portrays a Nerone who is in thrall to his senses while remaining the pitiless master of his court. Emmanuel Haïm takes the colours and dramatic nuances proffered by her ensemble, Le Concert d’Astrée, and distributes them to fine effect. She takes an active role in Monteverdi’s triumph.” Classica magazine, meanwhile, wrote that: “Emmanuelle Haïm and Le Concert d’Astrée, in fine form, breathe amorously hot and cold over Jean-François Sivadier’s intelligent production, which, typically, favours living beings over decor.”

“[Haim leads with] a fine sensitivity towards the urgent, tensile springiness of the melodic lines; and a superb handling of the instrumental forces...The title role here is taken by the suitably voluptuous Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva who has admirable technique and tone” BBC Music Magazine, August 2013 ****

“Cencic has the range to bash out Nerone's highest notes, and the occasional histrionic high passages and over-the-top delivery suit Nerone's brattish character. Ann Hallenberg's jilted Ottavia and Tim Mead's Ottone...are vocally and dramatically outstanding.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

“The play-within-a-play a la Brecht eventually recedes and the opera turns specifically into itself, up until very near the end...[Cencic] is one dangerous, hyperactive, dishevelled Emperor...[Haim's] way of colouring a scene rarely fails her.” International Record Review, September 2013

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Cavalli: Ercole Amante

Cavalli: Ercole Amante


Luca Pisaroni (Ercole), Veronica Cangemi (Iole), Anna Bonitatibus (Giunone), Jeremy Ovenden (Hyllo), Anna Maria Panzarella (Deianira), Marlin Miller (Licco), Umberto Chiummo (Nettuno/Tevere/Spirit of Eutyro), Wilke te Brummelstroete (Bellezza/Venere), Johannette Zomer (Cinzia/Parsitea/Spirit of Clerica), Mark Tucker (Mercurio/Spirit of Laomedonte) & Tim Mead (Paggio/Spirit of Bussiride)

Concerto Köln & Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera, Ivor Bolton (conductor) & David Alden (stage director)

This hilarious contemporary version of Francesco Cavalli’s baroque opera Hercules in Love was commissioned on occasion of the marriage of Louis XIV, the Sun King, to Maria Theresa of Spain. The original production took two years to complete and was at the time the greatest show ever performed in Europe. Directed by David Alden, this surreal production is a triumph of commedia buffa resplendent with decorative and symbolic elements, and complemented by Constance Hoffman’s exceptional costumes. Led by Ivor Bolton, a master of baroque music, the chorus of De Nederlandse Opera and Concerto Köln give a sublime performance. With Luca Pisaroni’s (Ercole) singing being heroic and melodious in turn, and Veronica Cangemi as a splendid Iole, this is an outstanding production by the DNO. Filmed in High Definition and surround sound.

Extra features:

Illustrated synopsis.

Cast gallery.

Behind the scenes with Johanette Zomer.

Behind the scenes with Luca Pisaroni.

The making of Ercole Amante.

Region code All regions

Video codec: AVC/MPEG-4

Disc size: BD50

Picture format 1080i High Definition / 16:9 Sound format 5.0 DTS Surround

Menu language EN

Subtitles EN/FR/DE/ES/IT/NL

“This is a ravishing production in every department - scenery, stage effects, costumes, dancing, acting and music. Luca Pisaroni is an assured and vigorous Hercules...but it is Cavalli's women who steal the show...this is an enterprising, entertaining and enlightening offering from Amsterdam.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 ****

“The production, like the piece, is moving, funny and literally action-packed. Alden knows well when to fill or empty his stage....Bolton leads his large authentic-instrument forces with gusto...Hugely recommended.” Gramophone Magazine

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Pergolesi: Stabat Mater

Pergolesi: Stabat Mater


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV54 'Widerstehe doch der Sünde'

Cantata BWV170 'Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust'

Pergolesi:

Stabat Mater


Lucy Crowe (soprano) & Tim Mead (counter-tenor)

La Nuova Musica, David Bates

Two of Bach’s finest cantatas, both for solo alto, composed in Weimar (1714) and Leipzig (1726) respectively, are here coupled with the delicious agony of grief that is Pergolesi’s 'Stabat mater', an acknowledged masterpiece by one of the 18th century’s most influential composers. Bach so admired the composition of his Neapolitan colleague that he made his own ‘parody’ of it to a German text. On this recording, La Nuova Musica, in its 10th anniversary year, and its two eminent soloists display equal mastery of both idioms.

Counter-tenor Tim Mead is praised for his “alluring...consistently excellent” interpretations (The New York Times). With his “rich, mellifluous sound” (Guardian), he is recognised as one of the finest across the generations of counter-tenors. Described as having a voice of bell-like clarity with an impeccable vocal technique and powerful stage presence, Lucy Crowe has established herself as one of the leading lyric sopranos of her generation.

Lucy Crowe and Tim Mead reunite to perform the 'Stabat Mater' at St John's Smith Square on May 12th [Early Opera Company/Curnyn]

“[La Nuova Musica] let phrases sigh and breathe and supply a decent amount of bass under properly expressive melodic lines...Crowe and Mead are both in sumptuous voice, and both fiery in the most dramatic moments of the Stabat Mater.” The Guardian, 30th March 2017 ****

“Lucy Crowe and Tim Mead withstand comparison with the finest on disc. Their voices blend ideally in the duets, and their stylish phrasing in the arias is especially rewarding here...A superb disc of baroque vocal music.” Sunday Times, 22nd May 2017

“In Lucy Crowe and Tim Mead the ensemble have both period specialists and singers with enough muscle and tone to temper stylistic precision with human drama. Together they lead a performance that is both meditation...and a vivid sacred drama...Bates and his ensemble take an active part in the drama too... A performance as sophisticated emotionally as it is musically.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2017

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Handel: Admeto, Re di Tessaglia HWV22

Handel: Admeto, Re di Tessaglia HWV22


Marie Arnet (Alceste), David Bates (Trasimede), Kirsten Blaise (Antigona), Tim Mead (Admeto), Wolf Matthias Friedrich (Meraspe) & Andrew Radley (Orindo)

FestspielOrchester Gottingen & Mamu Dance Theatre, Nicholas McGegan (conductor) & Doris Dörrie (stage director)

Solo dance and choreography: Tadashi Endo

For Handel’s Admeto, Oscar-nominated film director Doris Dörrie – winner of the 2009 Edinburgh International Festival’s prestigious Herald Angel Award – returns to her beloved subject of Japan. In vividly coloured and brilliantly realized set pieces, one of Handel’s most popular operas receives a stunning transformation into the stylishly ritualized world of samurai culture.

Bonus: Baroque and Butoh

Sound format: DTS 5.1, PCM Stereo

Picture: 16:9, HD

Subtitles: Italian (original language), English, German, French / Bonus: English

Booklet: English, German, French

Total running time: 202 mins (Opera: 181 mins + Bonus: 21 mins)

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Handel: Music for Queen Caroline

Handel: Music for Queen Caroline


Handel:

Coronation Anthem No. 3, HWV260 'The King Shall Rejoice'

Te Deum in D major 'Queen Caroline', HWV280

The Ways of Zion do mourn, HWV 264


Tim Mead (countertenor), Sean Clayton (tenor) & Lisandro Abadie (baritone)

Les Arts Florissants, William Christie

Caroline of Ansbach, [actually Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline von Brandenburg-Ansbach] wife of King George II, remarkably beautiful patron of the arts and sciences, considered Handel an esteemed confidant. It was in Hanover that Caroline first encountered Handel, actively encouraging his appointment as Kapellmeister there in 1710, and it was apparently at her behest that he composed five of his Italian chamber duets. With the accession of the elector as George I in 1714, Caroline became Princess of Wales and on his death, in 1727, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, consort of King George II. Three inspired works by the composer, including the magnificent Funeral Anthem, testify to the astonishing friendship between this monarch and artist. The latter was entrusted with the solemn music composed for the grand ceremonies that marked the reign: 'The King shall rejoice', given for the King’s coronation, the 'Queen Caroline' Te Deum written for her own ascension to the throne, and 'The Ways of Zion do mourn' performed at her funeral in 1737. When she died unexpectedly at the age of 54 her passing was much lamented. Quipped one irreverent wit, “O Death, where is thy sting / To take the Queen and leave the King?” This recording brings together, for the first time, three works underlining the strong link between the monarch and his favourite composer.

The vocal and instrumental ensemble Les Arts Florissants is one of the most renowned and respected early music groups in the world. Dedicated to the performance of baroque music on original instruments, the ensemble was founded in 1979 by the Franco-American harpsichordist and conductor William Christiewho directs it to this day, and takes its name from a short opera by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Les Arts Florissants played a pioneering role in the resurgence of interest in the French musical world for a repertoire which had up until then been neglected (in particular unearthing many treasures from the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France) but which is now widely performed and admired: not only 17th century French repertoire but also European music of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Includes a new short story commisioned by les Arts Florissants from distinguished American writer Douglas Kennedy.

“Christie calibrates his performance perfectly – bringing swift movement to Handel’s rapidly set verses…but allowing plenty of spacious swagger and grandeur in the big choruses supported by trumpets...This is an ideal recording for those of us looking for a change from the enthusiastically full-throated and highly articulated Handel singing we get from many British choirs … fit for a queen.” International Record Review, December 2014

“Christie is mainly associated with the revival of the French baroque, but he is a Handelian second to none. He revels here in the pomp and circumstance of one of George II’s (and Caroline’s) coronation anthems, The King shall rejoice, and the “Caroline” Te Deum.” Sunday Times, 4th January 2015

“It’s a thoughtfully conceived and immaculately presented sequence, wonderfully paced by William Christie and by turns exultant and lamenting, with superb solo singing by countertenor Tim Mead in the Te Deum.” The Guardian, 8th January 2015 ****

“The choir and orchestra of William Christie’s Les Arts Florissants provide elegantly demure performances, which shy away from the panache exhibited by some rivals.” Financial Times, 10th January 2015 ***

“Christie delights in the buoyant Handelian choral and orchestral splendour of the coronation anthem, and judges well the combination of mourning and celebration in the funeral anthem — the solos in She deliver’d the poor are as affecting as you’re likely to hear.” The Irish Times, 30th January 2015

“the instrumental colour is marvellous, simultaneously rich and transparent, and the singing of the chorus is joyful and exciting … This deserves to do well.” MusicWeb International, 4th February 2015

“The instrumental performance under William Christie is skilfully coloured” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 ***

“sublime slow music is sonorously satisfying and builds with emotional conviction. Gently lilting strings and the full choir's blossoming sonorities underline the eloquence of Caroline's virtues...[Christie's] judgement of the melancholic coda for strings that concludes the anthem...is profoundly beautiful.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

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Smith, J C: The Seasons

Smith, J C: The Seasons


Emma Kirkby (soprano), Tim Mead (countertenor) & Hans Jörg Mammel (tenor)

Musica Franconia Festival Choir & La Banda, Wolfgang Riedelbauch

60 years before Joseph Haydn, the German composer John Christopher Smith wrote an oratorio about the seasons, also based on the epic poem 'The Seasons' by the Scottish poet James Thomson. Smith was born in 1712 in Ansbach as Johann Christoph Schmidt and emigrated with his parents to London, for his father worked as a manager and copyist for George Frederic Handel. Young Smith received his first instruction from the master personally and later became Handel's closest working associate. He helped Handel with his composing and, when his mentor became blind, he directed performances of his oratorios. Smith himself was also a recognised composer who was "highly appreciated by many of the 'first heads' in the Kingdom", as the English music scholar Charles Burney reported. His oratorio about the seasons is an imaginative tone painting in a style which extends beyond the baroque, already introducing elements of the Empfindsamer Stil (Sensitive Style). In particular, Smith's colourful representations of nature – ranging from birdsong and the undulations of the forest to icy winter storms – are successfully realised. They show that he was far more than just Handel's assistant.

“Kirkby radiates joy, gliding easily in and out of lines entwined with solo instruments. Countertenor Tim Mead equals Kirkby's ease and spiritedness...Sadly, the choir is weak and too large for this work...Despite its flaws this disc is a jewel, giving us a glimpse of Smith's prodigious gifts, and of Britain's musical legacy beyond Handel.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2014 ****

“Smith's music makes for very pleasant listening. Most of the features that you would expect are there: fugal choruses, hunting horns, violin and cello solos, melismas on 'rage' and 'roar'...['Sweetest of birds'] is exquisitely sung by the ageless Emma Kirkby who, with the pure-toned Tim Mead, is the star of the set.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2014

“[Kirkby] sings with all the character and purity we expect from her. The orchestra, on period instruments, play with great spirit and finesse. The choir is less satisfactory, at least as recorded here.” MusicWeb International, 30th June 2014

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