Handel: Coronation anthems; Silete venti

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Coronation anthems; Silete venti
PERFORMER: Rebecca Ryan, Elizabeth Franklin-Kitchen (soprano), David Bates (countertenor), Edward Lyon (tenor), Nicholas Warden (bass); Tallis Chamber Choir, Royal Academy Consort/Jeremy Summerly
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557003
The stunning soprano motet Silete venti was composed in London no later than 1732 (when Handel recycled it in Esther). The fizzing sinfonia conveys turbulent winds, while the declamatory entrance of the soprano orders the storm to abate in a ravishing accompanied recitative. Then Handel proceeds to churn out one delight after another seemingly without effort. This recording may not quite force the storms to abate, but Rebecca Ryan is a fresh and engaging singer, and Summerly’s shaping of the orchestral elements is sufficiently sympathetic to the text. Those wanting to own this marvellous motet should hear John Eliot Gardiner’s version with the radiant Sylvia McNair, but Ryan’s rendition is a welcome addition.

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The performances of Handel’s four coronation anthems are less gripping, despite the fact that the players (mostly students at the Royal Academy of Music) have an impressive grasp of Baroque style. The Tallis Chamber Choir is idiomatic, yet falls short of the ideal quota of vitality and flamboyance. The intimate opening of My Heart is Inditing and the lovely central section of Let Thy Hand be Strengthened are refreshing and eloquent, but the choir’s blend in more immense structures such as The King Shall Rejoice is less satisfying than their enthusiasm. Those seeking a brilliant rendering of Zadok the Priest and its companions might prefer Stephen Cleobury’s recent EMI recording. This Naxos disc is secure and has merit, but it does not add an awful lot to the catalogue except a viable cheaper alternative. David Vickers