Dixit Dominus (HWV 232) &
Missa Nr.11 - by Johann David Heinichen
Recorded in 2000.
Released in 2001.
Christine Wolff, soprano
Susanne Scheinpflug, soprano
Patrick van Goethem, countertenor
Uwe Stickert, tenor
Jochen Kupfer, bass
Dresdner Barockorchester (on period instruments)
Conductor: Hans-Christoph Rademann
Dixit Dominus is Handel's explosion into genius, almost as if while in Rome at the age of 22 he decided to proclaim his brilliance to the world. Of course such a perspective is a post-modern wisdom of hindsight, and owes nothing to historical reality. But it is astonishing to hear Dixit Dominus and attempt to work out exactly where the phenomenal striking power of Handel's music comes from. It is not evident in the few of Handel's earliest works that have endured for posterity (many of the youthful works from Halle and Hamburg are lost). Dixit Dominus seems like a bolt out of the blue. Ranging from the opening 'fire and brimstone' of "Dixit", the ravishing yet enigmatic "De torrente", and the incrementing fireworks of the closing "Gloria", this is the work of a fully fledged master bursting with determination to have his voice heard. It is not too skeptical to speculate that Handel was ruthlessly endeavouring to impress his Roman patrons by "knocking their socks off".
This performance by the Dresdner Kammerchor and Barockorchester is generally efficient and sensible, but it does not knock one's socks off. There are a few weak moments from the soprano soloists ("Dominus a dextris" has a few uncomfortable swoops), and one cannot find the same kind of technical perfection here that is manifest in popular versions by Parrott, Preston, Minkowski, and Gardiner. However, the performance is spirited and nicely judged. The choir and orchestra are good, the sound quality of the Carus engineers is typically excellent, and this is certainly a Dixit Dominus worth hearing a few times - which is a nice bonus for a recording that is not really a Handel project at all.
Rademann and his Dresden team are recording a series titled "Music from the Court at Dresden", including music by Zelenka, Schein, but most of all the superb work of Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729), the Court Kappelmeister of Augustus the Strong. Dixit Dominus is paired with Heinichen's eleventh Mass, which turns out to be a wonderful bold work, full of refined contrasts. It is given a very impressive rendition. Anybody who enjoys "large scale" Bach will find a lot to delight them, and - though it may seem heresy for a Handelian to say this - the disc is worth buying for the Heinichen mass alone, and will probably leave you itching to hear more.
Missa Nr. 11
© David Vickers - February 2002
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