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Handel’s grand 1750 semi- opera collaboration with Tobias Smollett, written to be performed at Covent Garden with all manner of bells and whistles, never reached the stage – but it was reconstructed a few years ago by the English Bach Festival, whose irrepressible founder Lina Lalandi died in June. The music didn’t go to waste, of course: Handel reused most of it in The Choice of Hercules and elsewhere. Christian Curnyn and his Early Opera Company give it the works, with a nice airy acoustic and all the fire and steel its French-style grandeur demands, with plenty of florid violins and wind and resounding trumpets. Highlights are Lucy Crowe’s ravishing ‘Gentle Morpheus’ with its four-part string accompaniment, a gorgeous, relaxed, lilty chorus, ‘O bless, ye powers above’, and Benjamin Hulett’s strong and elegant tenor contributions. It’s a delicious disc with some quite surprising stuff.

Robert Thicknesse Read the full review on Agora Classica


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