Handel, Mancini, Bononcini, Conti, A Scarlatti

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COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti,Bononcini,Conti,Handel,Mancini
LABELS: Collins
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Lady’s Banquet, Vol. 1
WORKS: Keyboard arrangements from Rinaldo; Antiochus; Hydaspes; Almahide; Clotildo; Pyrrhus
PERFORMER: Jane Chapman (harpsichord, spinet)
CATALOGUE NO: 14562 DDD
Since the best chair for a harpsichord listener is in the next room, recordings provide an easy alternative without offending the performer. Although these new issues enshrine performances of cerebral and digital brilliance, some listeners may find that the presence of Kirckman instruments (1766 on Collins; 1769 on Herald) almost overwhelms Handel and Haydn. A more spacious acoustic in league with omni-directional microphones would have helped considerably. Nevertheless, both recitalists command the listener’s attention: Jane Chapman by her virtuosity, and Anthony Noble by a fine sense of phrasing. His programme concentrates on Handel’s suites, adding three Haydn sonatas which sound perfectly at home on the instrument.

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Jane Chapman, having chosen items from ‘The Lady’s Banquet’ (1704-16), skilfully folds in a pirated French edition of 1745 based on the same repertoire – operatic arrangements by William Babell. They derive from operas by Conti, Scarlatti, Bononcini, Mancini (Francesco, not a patch on Henry) and Handel. A regrouping of the selections from Handel’s Rinaldo would have revealed that the remarkable 11-minute piece is not Babell at all but a genuine written-out example of Handel improvising: his bravurissima version of Nicolini’s aria ‘Vo far guerra’. The sabre-rattling ‘Hojotoho’ music vividly depicts the warlike intentions of the Christians, who ultimately win back Jerusalem from the paynim. Denis Stevens