Aminta and Fillide, cantata for two voices, strings and continuo.
Gillian Fisher and Patrizia
Kwella (sopranos)/London Handel Orchestra/Denys
Helios (Hyperion) CDH55077
This recording was made in St Barnabas's Church, North Finchley in January
1984 and is a very classy production. Denys Darlow was one of the finest
conductors of early music and this CD is a welcome reminder of that.
For its time (circa 1706) this cantata was original in many ways. Three hundred
years on we can all say that it sounds very much like so much other music
of its time and therefore is predictable. I have to confess that almost an
hour's music with two voices and strings with little variation is somewhat
tedious and requires more stamina than I can muster. But it has its moments.
The depiction of cruel fate is beautifully written and the work seems to
improve as it progresses. Sadly, human nature tends to want a really good
beginning in order for any work of art in this form to be accepted.
If this work had a few choruses and more variety it would fare better. But,
of course, we tend to assess all of Handel's choral and vocal works in the
light of that supreme masterpiece, Messiah.
Would Handel have been more admired if he had written less and only his very
great works were available?
But I have to comment on the performance.
To this end I must say that the two singers are superb. Whether one is espoused
to the music or not the singers are very fine indeed. The purity of their
voices, the splendid intonation and the secure high notes are worthy of our
sincere admiration and, in my case, the performers have it. The orchestral
accompaniment is very good as well with dedicated musicians and a conductor
of first class status.
For Handel devotees this is a CD to have. For lovers of impeccable singing
it is well worth having as well.