Handel's Acis & Galatea - Dunedin Consort - Classic FM Magazine
The Dunedin Consort, having scored such a big hit with Handel's Messiah in 2008, now heads into 2009 with what is an even better version of the same composer's Acis and Galatea. The scholarly approach continues and here John Butt's forces shrink to perform the masque exactly as it was given at its premiere at the Early of Carnaervon's country house at Cannons, Edgeware, in 1718. The five soloists are also the chorus and Damon, later a soprano, is here a third tenor. The ensemble is nigh perfect - not only is every word of Alexander Pope's and John Gay's text crystal clear and tuning immaculate, but the freshness with which they sing radiates joy throughout the entire score.
Soprano Susan Hamilton is a delicious Galatea. Her voice pours out like spring water, treading lightly on high runs with an easy, vivacious sparkle. But bass Matthew Brook's Polyphemus steals the show. His is a comic, Falstaffian portrayal with leering portamento and cavernous low notes. His runs are dark laughter in ‘O Ruddier than the Cherry' while the piping sopranino recorder mocks his volcanic pomposity. The tenors have much to live up to. Thomas Hobbs is a bright Damon, Nicholas Hurndall Smith a lyrical Coridon while Nicholas Mulroy's warm Acis may be forgiven for tiring just a little in the long ‘Love in her Eyes' - he is only mortal. John Butt directs the Dunedin Consort with the lightest touch that sets the whole masque dancing.