Dunedin Consort - Handel: Samson - Choir & Organ
John Butt and the Dunedin Consort already have considerable form in Handel, with fine recordings of several works under their collective belts, notably Messiah. This remarkable recording of Samson (1743), with a libretto by Milton, is at least the equal of the Dunedin’s previous Handel recordings and very possibly outclasses them. Handel wrote for the greatest singers of his day – for example, John Beard was the first Samson – and Butt has assembled a cast of which Handel would surely have approved. Joshua Ellicott is, by turns, powerful and vulnerable in the title role; Matthew Brook as Samson’s father, Manoa, is touching, especially in his aria ‘How willing my paternal love’; Vitali Rozynko is warlike as Harapha, the Philistine warrior; and Sophie Bevan is suitably alluring as the treacherous Dalila. Hugo Hymas and Jess Dandy make easy work of their items, while Mary Bevan is beautifully caught in her material, notably delivering a handsome account of the celebrated ‘Let the bright seraphim’, with Paul Sharp a fearless trumpeter. Butt stiffens the choral consort with boys’ voices on the top line. (A version without the boys is available online.) Together with outstanding orchestral playing (the pair of horns are a total joy), this complete recording of Handel’s first version of Samson is highly recommended.