Handel: Ode for St Cecilia’s Day

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
WORKS: Ode for St Cecilia’s Day
PERFORMER: Felicity Palmer (soprano), Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor); Stockholm Bach Choir, Concentus Musicus Wien/ Nikolaus Harnoncourt
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-12319-2 ADD (1978)
Handel’s Ode begins with Creation formed by ‘heav’nly harmony’ and ends with the trumpet proclaiming Judgement Day, ‘when music shall untune the sky’ (not ‘uptune’ as the Teldec booklet has it!). The Ode, for soprano, tenor and chorus, also celebrates music’s less cataclysmic powers. Though it is a relatively minor Handel work, the arias in praise of cello and organ are hauntingly beautiful and the final chorus sweeps along with dire majesty. Harnoncourt’s 1978 period-instrument recording is a touch pedestrian and I find Felicity Palmer’s singing slightly overwrought. Trevor Pinnock’s 1985 Archiv version is more graceful, but is still full-price. Graham Lock