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Ensemble Marsyas - Handel: Apollo e Dafne - The Guardian

08 September 2016
The Guardian
Kate Molleson
4 Stars

This disc opens with the lush six-movement overture to Il Pastor Fido and closes with Apollo e Dafne, a 1710 dramatic cantata based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. Both are earlyish Handel, from the same period as Rinaldo and with the same swagger and lyricism. There are cocky arias for Apollo (the rich and weighty voice of Callum Thorpe) and gorgeous passages for the nymph Daphne, sung with finesse if some pointy edges by Mhairi Lawson. But it's the instrumental playing that stands out: pert, shapely, spicy, full of drama. These qualities also define Peter Whelan as a bassoonist, except that here Whelan is directing from the harpsichord - and turns out he's pretty good at that, too. The band is a variation on the Dunedin Consort's personnel, led with unmistakable charisma by Cecilia Bernardini and features commanding oboe playing by Katharina Spreckelsen. And as you'd expect from a conductor who spends his life playing bass lines, proper attention is paid to ensuring a robust bottom end to the ensemble. Marsyas perform Apollo e Dafne at the Lammermuir festival on 10 September.
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