Handel: God Rot Tunbridge Wells - The Life Of Georg Frederic Handel CD

$13.50

Taken from the soundtrack of the film God Rot Tunbridge Wells, this unforgettable collection of Handel’s ‘hits’ was rightly praised at the time for making Handel sound, well, like Handel: full of life and fury, and not the usual syrupy stodge served up by massed choirs of thousands.

Conducted by the great Handelian Sir Charles Mackerras, his fiery cast – Emma Kirkby, James Bowman, Elizabeth Harwood, John Shirley-Quirk, Simon Preston, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, Valerie Masterson, Andrei Gavrilov, Simon Preston and the Westminster Abbey Choir and the indefatigable English Chamber Orchestra – blaze their way through some of Handel’s most famous music.

Mackerras had insisted on hearing the Royal Fireworks Music (for instance) as it had been written – for a veritable battery of wind and brass instruments, not to mention twenty side-drums – but how on earth were we going to assemble that number of period-looking instruments to film? Easy, said the cameraman: use mirrors. And so we did. No-one noticed, nor that the ‘harpsichord’ on which the deaf and almost blind Handel doodles from time to time is actually a grand piano painted by Burne-Jones in 1890, almost 150 years after Handel had died. (Ironically, the one person who did spot this was Andrew Lloyd-Webber, who then tried to buy the piano).

Mackerras adored the film and for a time went round slightly misquoting one of Handel’s speeches from the film. Handel/Osborne/Trevor Howard says, with appropriate insouciance: ''What have I done for the Georges of England?!'' Mackerras said: ''What have I done for the Handels of England?'' Rescued them, great Sir. Rescued them.

Tracks: 7: The Messiah �I Know that My Redeemer Liveth� (Elizabeth Harwood) 6:37 6: The Royal Fireworks (Minuet) 2:42 5: Xerses: �Ombra mai f� - Never was the shadow� (James Bowman) 3:29 4: Israel in Egypt: �He Gave Them Hailstones� (Chorus) 2:05 3: Water Music (Air) 1:58 2: �Zadok the Priest� (Chorus) 4:50 1: The Royal Fireworks (Overture) 3:14 9: The Messiah: �But who may Abide� (Emma Kirkby & The Academy of Ancient Music) 4:21 10: Water Music (Bour�e) 1:56 11: The Messiah: �For unto us a Child is born� (Chorus) 4:16 12: Judas Maccabeus: �See the Conquering Hero Comes� (Judith Howarth & Lynn Anderson) 2:30 14: Rinaldo: �Cara Sposa - My beloved� (Andrew Dalton) 4:03 15: Solomon: �Queen of Sheba� 3:00 16: Acis & Galatea: �Oh HappyWe� (Valerie Masterson & Anthony Rolfe-Johnson) 2:03 17: Passacaglia from Suite No 7 (Andrei Gavrilov) 4:05 18: The Messiah: �Hallelujah Chorus� 2:44