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Simon Thompson
MusicWeb International, June 2010

The disc gains hugely from being a live performance, though the audience is so well behaved that you would never guess it. There is a good sense of to-and-fro and there’s creative energy coming from the audience: never did it feel stilted. Above all, Martini’s direction is flexible and always interesting. He is helped by a band that responds convincingly to every nuance. The juicy orchestral sounds add an entirely distinctive air to this performance, something I was very happy to live with. Timotheus’ harp solo in track 4 and the exciting figurations when the king “seizes a flambeau” are only two examples. Martini propels the action forwards so that the pace never flags and attention never wavers.

Happily, the solo singing is just as good. Gerlinde Sämann’s soprano is bright and clear, almost in the Emma Kirkby category. She responds well to the inflections (and frequent repetitions) in the text, such as in track 19 (The Prince, unable to conceal his pain). Klaus Mertens is a steady, dependable bass, who manages beauty in the stiller moments but is vigorous and agile for Timotheus’ call of revenge. Knut Schoch produces lovely tone…

John Sheppard
MusicWeb International, April 2010

It gets off to a good start with an alert performance of the Overture; indeed the orchestra and Joachim Carlos Martini’s direction are the strongest points about this disc. They play with verve and colour, and great rhythmic bite…I was never bored listening to it and I did end with a renewed enthusiasm for the work.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2010

Continuing this Naxos series of Handel oratorios, Alexander’s Feast atone time enjoyed a place among his most popular vocal scores, though today is more rarely performed. It was written as an ‘Ode in the Honour of St Cecilia’, but it is not until the final section that we discover the literary connection, the main part of the text given to the story of the drunken feast of Alexander the Great following the defeat of the King of Persia. The disc’s accompanying booklet does not state which of Handel’s many revisions is used, but it seems to be akin to the original but with the second soprano part reallocated to the tenor. That it was popular with amateur choral societies largely stemmed from the fact that it can be performed with a very small orchestra, though here expanded to twenty-eight musicians that bring a jovial weight to the work’s opening overture written in the ‘French’ style. The major solo role is given to the soprano sung by the silvery voice of Gerlinde Samann, a singer who marries impeccable intonation with a beauty of tone. Maybe she does not always engender the differing moods of the text, but I would happily take her as she is. Knut Schoch is an admirably fluid tenor whose diction does not require the text that can be download from the Naxos website. Klaus Mertens is a lightweight bass compared with the usual British singers but it is a well-focused voice. They are all well supported by the Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra, the Junge Kantorei singing in the early part with suitable vigour. The ‘live’ recording is presented before a totally silent audience.

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