Friday, September 24, 2010

Alexander's Feast

     I'm jumping the gun on the concert season a bit. Our last sailboat race isn't until tomorrow, and my first BSO concert isn't until October 7; but I'm going in to Boston this evening, to a performance of "Alexander's Feast" by Emmanuel Music. The piece is a setting by Handel of an ode for St. Cecelia's day by John Dryden. Here are a couple of videos. One is my favorite aria (for bass). The other gives a chorus and soprano aria (beginning at about 2:30). You can find more videos from the ones I have linked. The wiki article has an outline of the numbers in the work gives links for the text.

     I have a recording from the 1960's on Vanguard's "Bach Guild" label, which I've very much enjoyed. It has Alfred Deller conducting the musical forces. (In that recording, they pronounce the bard's name as tye moe´ thee us, and hearing "tim owe´thee us" takes some getting used to. Also Maurice Bevan pronounced "rear" to rhyme with "hair," which I think is a traditional pronunciation, as in "rarin' to go.")

     Anyway, I think it's a fine work, and I'm looking forward to hearing it from a group whose Bach cantata recordings I've sometimes heard on the radio, but whose concerts I've never attended. I think if you don't already know "Alexander's Feast," you'll like it if you listen to it. I hope the videos have whetted your appetite.