Handel at Vaux Vol. I – London Early Opera, Bridget Cunningham, Daniel Moult (2016) [Qobuz 24-96]

London Early Opera, Cunningham, Moult – Handel at Vaux Vol. I (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 48:09 minutes | 876 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Digital booklet |  © Signum Records

Handel at Vauxhall Volume One contains music by Handel and his English contemporaries. It reconstructs the first act in a typical evening’s concert at Vauxhall Gardens during the 1740s when the programme became more standardized, usually with a set of 16 pieces a night including an opening piece, organ concerto, wind music, instrumental pieces and dances and vocal music including solo and group songs which Jonathan Tyers reputedly introduced for the first time on the advice of Dr.Arne. The music, which was significantly by English composers, was performed by a small band with players doubling up on instruments and singers with very different types of voices…

Vauxhall Gardens was a “pleasure garden,” a kind of private park where entertainment of various kinds might be presented indoors and outdoors. Part of it still exists today. Handel and others wrote music for the venue, only to see it disparaged by Samuel Johnson; partly for this reason, the selections on this album qualify as genuinely neglected Handel. They are light, but not unsophisticated. Contained on this release is music that roughly reconstructs part of an evening’s music at Vauxhall. One of the park’s pavilions contained a small organ, and the Organ Concerto in B flat major, Op. 4, No. 2, HWV 290, receives a delightful small-scale performance here from organist Daniel Moult and players from the London Early Opera orchestra under Bridget Cunningham, the creative force behind this album. The outdoor pieces would have included little strophic songs and pastoral scenes by Handel and others; these are small gems that have hardly been touched by performers. Sample the rather comically overwrought The Melancholy Nymph, HWV 228, No. 19 (track 12), or the comic pastoral Colin and Phoebe by Thomas Arne, one of a pair of Handel contemporaries included. The sound disappoints; the church acoustic makes no differentiation among the types of music heard here and isn’t really right for any of them. But this release is essential for anyone interested in understanding Handel’s musical world, and it holds a good deal of charm for any listener.

Tracklist:
01 – Handel: Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Sinfonia
02 – Moult: Organ Improvisation in the style of John Worgan and Handel
03 – Handel: Organ Concerto Op. 4 No. 2 in B flat Major, HWV 290: I. Sinfonia: A tempo ordinario e staccato
04 – Handel: Organ Concerto Op. 4 No. 2 in B flat Major, HWV 290: II. Allegro
05 – Handel: Organ Concerto Op. 4 No. 2 in B flat Major, HWV 290: III. Adagio e staccato
06 – Organ Concerto Op. 4 No. 2 in B flat Major, HWV 290: IV. Allegro ma non presto
07 – Handel: Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Ye verdant plains and woody mountains
08 – Handel: Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Hush, ye pretty warbling choir!
09 – Arne: Colin and Phoebe: A Pastoral
10 – Handel: Saul, HWV 53: Dead March
11 – Handel: The Advice, ‘Mortals wisely learn to measure’
12 – Handel: The Melancholy Nymph, HWV 228 No. 19
13 – Hebden: Concerto for Strings and Basso Continuo No 1 in A Major: I. Adagio
14 – Hebden: Concerto for Strings and Basso Continuo No 1 in A Major: II. Fuga
15 – Hebden: Concerto for Strings and Basso Continuo No 1 in A Major: III. Largo
16 – Hebden: Concerto for Strings and Basso Continuo No 1 in A Major: IV. Allegro
17 – Handel: L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, HWV 55: As steals the morn upon the night

Produced by Christopher Alder. Engineered by Neil Hutchinson.
Recorded in May 2012 at St. Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom.

Performers:
London Early Opera, Conducted by Bridget Cunningham
Daniel Moult – organ
Sophie Bevan – soprano
Eleanor Dennis – soprano
Kirsty Hopkins – soprano
Charles MacDougall – tenor
Greg Tassell – tenor
Benjamin Bevan – baritone

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