Thursday, 16 April 2009

First of the fine Jephtas

Tickets for this Jephta were like gold dust, impossible to get because they were snapped up so fast by the cognoscenti.

"The title role requires a singer with immense powers of characterisation as well as prodigious vocal technique", says Melanie Eskenazi in Classical Source, "both of these were amply provided by John Mark Ainsley, who recorded the part in 1992. That recording still sets the standard for this role. However, on the evidence of the current performance, it’s time for a new one, since not only does Ainsley now give a much deeper reading but Cummings also infuses the score with a verve and power not yet committed to a recording of this work."

"Ainsley was surrounded by some of the best young Handelians. Countertenor Iestyn Davies is fast taking on the mantle of James Bowman; his Hamor had everything this part requires, from the confident declamatory strength needed in ‘If such thy cruel purpose’ to the sweetness of tone and moving quality of intonation in ‘Tis Heav’n’s all-ruling pow’r’. He was almost equalled by the sympathetic and gentle-toned Iphis of Sarah Tynan, her vocal agility sometimes challenged by Cummings’s tempos, but her interpretation was always convincing. "

There will be another Handel Jephta at the Barbican in June. Paul McCreesh conducts the Gabrieli Consort with Mark Padmore, Christianne Stotjin (lovely), Andrew Foster Williams (an excellent Arkel last year) and others. Should be good even though it will be without the cachet of the divine JMA.

Listen to the broadcast on BBC Radio 3 available on demand online for a few more days. It really is very good ! JMA is heroic.
Read the whole review here :

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