Handel's Acis & Galatea - Dunedin Consort - Early Music Review

After one of the best Messiahs in disc (and similar success with a bit of Bach), John Butt returns with an outstanding Acis & Galatea. For a start, he gets the forces right: a soprano, three tenors and a bass, who are not only excellent soloists but blend as the chorus. More important, he gets the feel of the pastoral entertainment and doesn't make the mistake of treating it too seriously: not that the death of Acis isn't deeply felt, but such emotion arises within a world of make-believe which absorbs and to some extent sanitises tragedy. The tone here is exactly right, and it is good that Polyphemus isn't just a bluff parody. Only a couple of interpretational points worried me. ‘Behold the monster Polypheme' is strangely detached (using the word both as a musical and emotional term); and I've never been sure what Handel was intending by marking the opening of ‘The flocks shall leave the mountain' staccato: here I feel that he might not mean more than (to use that word again) detached. A marvellous performance!

Early Music Review
05 December 2008