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John W. Barker
American Record Guide, December 2000

"The first shall be last, and the last shall be first"-a Scriptural nugget that comes to mind in trying to deal with what might be called Handel's ultimate work-in-progress, the fullest instance of the composer's career-long recycling and recasting of earlier works. This is both the first the last of Handel's oratorios.

"Its subject matter is an allegorical debate between personifications of Time and Disillusion, with Beauty and Pleasure putting in their oars. The Italian text is by the Roman intellectual, Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili. It was composed in two parts, under the title Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, in 1707-early in Handel's youthful sojourn in Italy-as his first venture into the large-scale of Italian oratorio. At the other end of things, as his final venture in the form of English oratorio that he had created for his London public, Handel labored painfully to recast his own score, fitting it out with a new English-language adaptation in three acts prepared for him by Thomas Morell. That was first presented in 1757 as The Triumph of Time and Truth.

"All of that will fascinate those with scholarly instincts. What matters, of course, is : (1) does the recreated 1737-39 edition work and (2) does this performance convince? To both questions I think a solid 'Yes' is due. is full of entertaining music, and this 'in between' version is the most ample projection of it, in its original Italian spirit, while capturing Handel's intention to sell it to his London audience-caught as it was between waning Italian and burgeoning English ventures.

"Martini and his Frankfurt forces have been building a solid reputation for Handel recordings, and here the problems of language and accents that might arise in the English oratorio are happily absent. Martini leads a lively and sonorous performance.

"The heaviest weight falls on the soloists who take the roles of the four 'characters' (in the English version a fifth, Truth, was to be added). As fulfilment of Handel's vocal ranges, we come up with two sopranos and two altos-the latter here countertenors. Since the solos are mostly rather brief, and since the "characters" are no distinctly characterized, despite the gamuts of moods they must convey, it is not much help that the two pairs of singers here sound rather like each other, resulting in a constant need for 'who's up?' checking. McFadden is the most familiar singer of the group, but Scholl is an able match for her. The two countertenors are, inevitably, of lesser vocal sheen, but perform with skill and produce quite listenable results.

"In all, this Naxos venture is a genuine and reasonable contribution to the vast gallery of Handel's major vocal works. With it we now have access to the stages by which Handel developed his first oratorio into his last one."

Bernard Jacobson
Fanfare, October 2000

"All of the soloists contribute apt and impressive cadenzas when appropriate; they do not essay more than minimal embellishment in some of the da capos. The chorus sounds unfashionably large but sings well, and the orchestral playing is excellent...the recorded sound, which derives from a concert performance, is amply vivid and clean enough to convey the spirit of a delightful work, sung, played, and conducted with conviction and style."

Robert Levine, June 2000

"This almost unknown, large scale (almost 3 hour) oratorio, The Triumph of Time and Truth, was composed by Handel in Rome in 1707 and revised by him for performances in London's Covent Garden in 1737 and then translated into English, revised again and presented, with new additions, in 1757. The performance recorded here contains, probably, everything Handel composed for this work in its various incarnations, and then some: A brief organ concerto by the composer is added to the second part's introduction and another pops up before the final chorus; a number from the serenata Acis & Galatea is inserted at one point; and a Saraband for two harpsichords from Handel's Almira is used as an interlude in Part III. Furthermore, some will recognize the beautiful aria from Rinaldo, 'Lascia ch'io piango' set to another text. All that aside, this windy work, in which four characters (here, two sopranos and two male altos) stand for Beauty, Pleasure, Time and Disillusion and duke it out until each characteristic opts to serve a better, higher cause, is definitely worth hearing. It contains the appealing, straightforwardly Baroque (if there is such a thing) style of Handel's early Italian cantatas, mixed with his later sophisticated choral writing and dramatic recitatives. The singers have plenty to do. Both sopranos, Beauty and Pleasure...are excellent, with particular kudos going to Claron McFaddon's Beauty for her lovely trills (especially in #29, with continuo), and both male altos are agile, involved, and just a bit weak in their lower registers. The chorus, which is very big and appears to have been recorded from a far greater distance than the soloists, is splendid, as is the orchestra under Joachim Carlos Martini's leadership."

Paul Riley
Classic CD, May 2000

"Naxos offers the premiere recording of the 1737 version, complete with organ concertos, dueting harpsichords, and a carillon which turns Pleasure's bouncy 'Un Leggiadro Giovinetta' into a real shop-stopper. Handel had been out to heads, and how! ... Among the quartet of soloists, Elisabeth Scholl and Peer Abilgaard are particularly impressive. Handelians will need this set to plug a gap; for the rest, snap it up: three hours of such vibrant music doesn't come much cheaper."

George Pratt
BBC Music Magazine, May 2000

"Research has revealed that Handel's 1737 revision of his charming Roman allegory from 1707 was no mere revival. Its scale increased from two acts to three; 'Tempo', recast from alto to tenor, had much new music; and additional concertos, chorus, even carillon, titillated London taste. The music, though, retains Handel's earlier high spirits as he took Italy by storm, and they're reflected in this sparkling performance. Scholl ('Pleasure'), light and transparent, ornaments delicately Handel's heartfelt lines, McFadden adds a striking cadenza to Beauty's magnificently posturing 'battle aria', and both combine in a delicious duet with two oboes (uncredited in the booklet notes). Both countertenors are relative newcomers, and excellent-Hariades's 'Time' flies round the earth in spectacular chromatic figurations... no committed Handelian could resist this first performance in 260 years."

Berta Joncus
International Record Review, March 2000

"This is an important recording, both musically and historically. It allows the listener to hear superior music by Handel which, due to the lack of a published score, has never before been recorded, and it offers a fascinating testimony to Handel's creative response to the words professional crisis he faced during his life...[when his] career as London's pre-eminent Italian opera composer was collapsing...
Joachim Carlos Martini's conducting brilliantly brings out the tensions between these divergent styles: the intimate lyricism and crisp articulation of the cantata, the brilliant vocal display and drama of the opera seria, and the lush orchestral and choral sound of the oratorio leap out at the listener. Martini further underlines stylistic differences by making abrupt transitions between sections of contrasting style. Such an interpretation demands great sensitivity and flexibility from the performers and the four soloists prove equal to the task, incorporating shifting rhythmic contours, phrase articulation and colours into their interpretation.
...this recording is a valuable one, which offers thrilling performances and the opportunity to hear Handel at the crossroads of his career, poised between opera and oratorio."

Stephen Pettitt)
, February 2000

"Joachim Carlos Martini elicits some fine playing and singing-you can't fail to be charmed by the carillon in Pacere's happy-go-lucky Un Leggiadro Giovinetto. The soloists are excellent."

Stefan Schickhaus
Frankfurter Rundschau, December 1998

"Händels Oratorium ,,Il Trionfo del Tempo e della Verità" stand da auf dem Programm, mit exquisiten Solisten (den Sopranistinnen Claron McFadden und Elisabeth Scholl sowie den Countertenören Nicholas Hariades und Peer Abilgaard) und dem opulenten "Barockorchester Frankfurt" auf Original-Instrumenten. Absolut sicherer Plan: Nur Martini hat die Noten zu diesem Stück! Anhand verschiedener Autographen und Fassungen rekonstruierte er dieses Frühwerk Händels - ein allegorisches Spiel der vier Kontrahenten Schönheit, Weltlust, Zeit und Weisheit - integrierte Händels eigene, späte Nachbearbeitungen und gab noch jede Menge ebenso subjektive wie gelungene Ingredienzien dazu: Hier mal ein kleines Orgelkonzert, dort mal ein Glockenspiel, alles natürlich wissenschaftlich fundiert, aber deswegen nicht minder lustbetont. Bei dieser erst vor wenigen Tagen erschienenen Einspielung geht es so saftig zu wie in allen Pfingstprojekten Martinis."

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