Marcus Creed amply proves in this recording of the Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne and the Dixit Dominus that he has what it takes to conduct George Frederick Handel. He's got the big beat down, plus the muscular rhythms, vigorous tempos, and vivid textures, as well as the tight ensembles and the unstoppable drive so essential in making Handel come alive. And that's just in the fast choral movements. In the solos and duets, Creed creates poised, alert, and wholly sympathetic accompaniments that help shape the singers' performances as part of the total work. And what singers! Both sopranos are superlative, especially Sophie Kussmann, and countertenor Andreas Scholl is, as always, strong, yet supple and sensitive. With the expert period instrument skills of the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin, and the agile but robust singing of the Vocalconsort Berlin, Creed has delivered one of the great Handel discs.(James Leonard)
Here we have the first complete recording of Gluck's charming one-act serenata teatrale for chamber orchestra and four treble voices, composed for the marriage of Hapsburg Archduke Joseph in January 1765. The Archduke's first wife had died. This time he was to marry the Bavarian princess, Maria Josepha. For this performance of the new Gluck work, four of the Archduke's daughters from his first marriage who were all accomplished musicians, sang roles in the new work. The new bridegroom's younger brother Leopold, conducted. That the four Archduchesses could successfully negotiate the florid soprano roles Gluck fashioned for them, is most impressive. One presumes that the youngest daughter, Marie Antoinette, was not so gifted. The serenata teatrale was presented as a surprise to the newly weds at Schonbrunn Castle in Vienna in the presence of the rest of the Hapsburg court. It was deemed such a success, that on the spot, Gluck was asked to compose another opera. The result was La Corona. The work was planned for November, but because the Emperor died suddenly, the work was not performed.