Wednesday, September 1, 2021, Royal Albert Hall, London
Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from 7.30 p.m.
I rarely write about Baroque music, and you are about to find out why. However, I much enjoyed this Prom, Sir John Eliot’s sixtieth … so, keeping my words short and simple: written whilst-in-Rome, the opening Handel Cantata was given an outing of ink-still-wet freshness and stylish authority from the players, with mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg superb, whether delivering the plangent arias with operatic intensity or the animated one with mercurial coloratura. The Bach was equally persuasive as a performance, the musicians highlighting the composer’s depth of response to the text, and his imagination in so doing. Both works, new to me, made a big impression. Also from his Italian years, Handel’s Dixit Dominus (“daring, exuberant, uncompromising” – JEG) is more familiar to me, a masterpiece of energy, theatre and reflection, given a reading of focus, agility and sensitivity, the numerous distinctive vocal solos taken by members of the Monteverdi Choir.
It would have been good-night from me at this point, but it wasn’t from Sir John Eliot. He added a radiant encore, a reprise of the penultimate Dixit Dominus movement. I blogged (blagged) this one.
Handel: Cantata ‘Donna, che in ciel’
J. S. Bach: Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV4
Handel: Dixit Dominus