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Bowled over by Rome, the 22-year-old Handel pulled out all the stops for his psalm Dixit Dominus. It’s essentially a large-scale concertante piece, or concerto grosso for voices, packed with every fashionable device and decoration of the day but still architecturally logical and sound. The Bach Magnificat was also constructed to impress, the first major piece for the Thomaskirche in Leipzig (probably) at Christmas 1723. It’s also a showy concerto for five-part voices and a richly textured orchestra. Dijkstra makes the most of both. He’s not a baroque specialist; in fact, he’s a self-declared ‘anti-specialist’, and these are readings that don’t in any way agonise about ‘authenticity’ or ‘period’ performance. The scores speak clearly, and choir and orchestra deliver them with brazen polish and confidence.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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