|Designs by Giovanni Niccolo Servandoni who was to have designed |
Handel & Smollett's Alceste
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Mar 29 2017
A pair of rarities in this engaging evening of music by Handel and Boyce
Slap bang in the middle of the London Handel Festival, though not part of it, Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company popped up at the Wigmore Hall on Wednesday 29 March 2017, with a prime Handel rarity, the incidental music for Tobias Smollett's play, Alceste. Curnyn and the company were joined by soloists Mary Bevan (soprano), Benjamin Hulett (tenor) and James Platt (bass) for a programme which include Alceste and the Concerto grosso Op.6 No.1 in G HWV319 plus excerpts from another rarity William Boyce's serenata Solomon.
The programme opened with Handel's Concerto grosso Op.6 No.1 in which the 10 players of the orchestra made a very grand noise indeed. The opening movement was full of colour, with a vibrant sound and plenty of rhythmic vigour. Throughout the piece we noticed the strong sound which the group made, and their sense of vitality. The third movement Adagio, featured some lovely plangent solos whilst the concluding Allegro was full of verve.
The orchestra was then joined by oboes, trumpets and singers making 22 people on a rather crowded stage, not that their music making reflected this. There was a vocal ensemble of eight singers for the choruses, with soloists Mary Bevan, Benjamin Hulett and James Platt singing in the ensemble and two other singers in the ensemble Zoe Brookshaw and Tim Travers Brown also featuring as soloists in Alceste.