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The Dunedin Consort’s highly anticipated new recording of ‘Esther - First Reconstructable Version (Cannons), 1720’ is the third recording in its hugely successful Handel series.
The Consort have set the bar high for this Handel performance with a Gramophone Award in 2007 for ‘Messiah’ and a BBC Radio 3 ‘Building a Library’ First Choice accolade for ‘Acis and Galatea’.
For Esther, director John Butt has reunited his award-winning team of soloists (Susan Hamilton - Esther; Nicholas Mulroy - Mordecai; Matthew Brook - Haman; Thomas Hobbs - 1st Israelite) plus well-known guest soloists Robin Blaze – Priest, James Gilchrist – Habdonah / Assuerus and Electra Lochhead - Israelite Boy.
The Dunedin Consort has established a reputation as the finest single-part period performance choir currently performing.
In 2011 Gramophone named the Dunedin Consort the 11th Greatest Choir in recognition of its ‘triple focus upon artistic revitalisation of over-familiar great works, meticulous musicological enquiry and the audiophile integrity of Linn Records' production values.’
The multi-award-winning Dunedin Consort has won praise for the natural style of its soloists (‘an authoritative bass and a superb contralto’ The Guardian) and renown for the virtuosity of its singers.
The Dunedin Consort has performed at music festivals in Scotland - including the Edinburgh International Festival and broadcasts frequently on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Scotland.
Handel: Esther, HWV. 50a (First Reconstructable Version (Cannons), 1720)
Act One, Overture - I. Andante
Act One, Overture - II. Larghetto
Act One, Overture - III. Allegro
Act One, Scene 1 - I. Recitative: 'Tis greater far to spare, than to destroy
Act One, Scene 1 - II. Air: Pluck root and branch from out the land
Act One, Scene 1 - III. Recitative: Our souls with ardour glow
Act One, Scene 1 - IV. Chorus: Shall we the God of Israel's fear?
Act One, Scene 2 - I. Recitative: Now persecution shall lay by her iron rod
Act One, Scene 2 - II. Air: Tune your harps to cheerful strains
Act One, Scene 2 - III. Chorus: Shall we of servitude complain
Act One, Scene 2 - IV. Recitative: O God, who from the suckling's mouth
Act One, Scene 2 - V. Air: Praise the Lord with cheerful noise
Act One, Scene 2 - VI. Chorus: Shall we of servitude complain
Act One, Scene 3 - I. Recitative: How have our sins provok'd the Lord
Act One, Scene 3 - II. Chorus: Ye sons of Israel mourn
Act One, Scene 3 - III. Air: O Jordan, Jordan, sacred tide
Act One, Scene 3 - IV. Chorus: Ye sons of Israel mourn
Act Two, Scene 1 - I. Recitative: Why sits that sorrow on thy brow?
Act Two, Scene 1 - II. Recitative: Why sits that sorrow on thy brow?
Act Two, Scene 1 - III. Recitative: I go before the king to stand
Act Two, Scene 1 - IV. Air: Tears assist me, pity moving
Act Two, Scene 1 - V. Chorus: Save us, O Lord
Act Two, Scene 2 - I. Recitative: Who dares intrude into our presence without our leave?
Act Two, Scene 2 - II. Duet: Who calls my parting soul from death?
Act Two, Scene 2 - III. Air: O beauteous Queen, unclose those eyes!
Act Two, Scene 2 - IV. Recitative: If I find favour in thy sight
Act Two, Scene 2 - V. Air: How can I stay, when love invites?
Act Two, Scene 2 - VI. Recitative: With inward joy his visage glows
Act Two, Scene 2 - VII. Chorus: Virtue, truth and innocence
Act Three, Scene 1 - I. Air: Jehovah crown'd with glory bright
Act Three, Scene 1 - II. Chorus: He comes, He comes to end our woes
Act Three, Scene 2 - I. Recitative: Now, O Queen, they suit declare
Act Three, Scene 2 - II. Accompagnato: Turn not, O Queen, thy face away
Act Three, Scene 2 - III. Air: Flatt'ring tongue, no more I hear thee!
Act Three, Scene 2 - IV. Recitative: Guards, seize the traitor, bear him hence!
Act Three, Scene 2 - V. Air: How art thou fall'n from thy height!
Act Three, Scene 2 - VI. Chorus: The Lord our enemy has slain
“Butt's direction combines spontaneous freshness with a care for expressive phrasing and precise colouring. The 11-strong chorus - the solo cast plus reinforcement - is vital incisive, packing a fair punch even in the ceremonial final chorus.”
17th May 2012
“the scholarship is only a means to an end, and is never allowed to get in the way of the wonderfully crafted music making. Textures are lean – 11 singers, including the soloists, 20 instrumentalists – but wonderfully precise, and the solo contributions, with soprano Susan Hamilton as Esther, are models of stylishness.”
“Butt's consort of soloists do this great music proud, sounding larger than their number would suggest...I'll return to this recording for the winning drive, dramatic conception and expressive phrasing of Butt's direction, his crack Baroque orchestra and his exceptional male cast”
“Paradoxically, a two-voices-to-a-part chorus achieves more immediacy than a larger choir, coupled with a stylish and delightfully intimate band. Yet again, Butt demonstrates that less can be more.”
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