'Sutherland and Pearsís rare operatic union on Handelís delightful masque... Adrian Boult conjures perky, pastoral elegance from the Philomusica of London, Sutherland is an exquisite, feisty Galatea, while Pearsís Acis is divine and immaculately phrased. Marvellous, too, is a reacquaintance with Owen Branniganís outsized party-pooper Polyphemus.'
Masque in two acts
Words by Johy Gay and others
Joan Sutherland, soprano - Galatea
Peter Pears, tenor - Acis
David Galliver, tenor - Damon
Owen Brannigan, bass - Polyphemus
Thurston Dart - harpsichord continuo
St Anthony Singers
Philomusica of London
Sir Adrian Boult - conductor
Recorded in Watford Town Hall June 1959
Producer - Michael Bremner
Sound engineer - Alan Reeve
ĎCommemorating great singers of the past is the chief reason for Chandos's reissue of a fascinating 1959 performance conducted by Sir Adrian Boult, never available on CD before, which gives a fine insight into the reception of Handel's music circa 1959 (the 200th anniversary of his death).
... there are a lot of moments that show how the class of '59 knew what they were doing: Boult's leisurely pace for the Sinfonia and tender shaping of "Heart, 0 seat of soft delight" are immaculate, Peter Pears's delivery of Acis's death scene is movingly delivered (though some might find his singing elsewhere adenoidal and constipated), and Joan Sutherland's best singing here is silvery, limpid, more convincing than any of her other Handel Performances on disc. Special praise must go to Thurston Dart's witty harpsichord continuo realisations, and Handel lovers of any vintage will probably enjoy Owen Brarmigan's bluff and swaggering Polyphemus.í