Avie AV 2274
Handel and Scarlatti: Dixit Dominus – Elin Manahan Thomas, Esther Brazil, Sally Bruce-Payne, Guy Cutting, Matthew Brook, Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford, Owen Rees (director), The Brook Street Band
Following five critically acclaimed and immensely popular recordings for Avie, The Brook Street Band embarks on its most ambitious project to date: a recording with the estimable student Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford that pairs for the first time ever the two settings of Dixit Dominus by Alessandro Scarlatti and George Frideric Handel. Both works were written in Rome in the early eighteenth century. Handel composed his within a year of arriving in the musical capital, possibly influenced by the setting by Scarlatti, though the date of the elder Italian’s work is not precisely known. Indeed it has been suggested that the twenty-two-year-old Lutheran was attempting to outdo Scarlatti with his masterly grasp of large-scale sacred music for the Roman rite. In between these two grand Vespers, The Brook Street Band serves up a palate cleanser in the form of an instrumental concerto in G minor by Scarlatti.
On this recording the massed forces are joined by five of Britain’s brightest young singers: the soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, mezzo-sopranos Esther Brazil and Sally Bruce-Payne, tenor Guy Cutting, and bass-baritone Matthew Brook.
"... Both works are performed with real spirit and elan, with owen Rees drawing strongly projected, incisive work from his choir ..." ****
Brian Robins - Early Music Today magazine - June-August 2014
"... there is an intelligence, flow, and a sensitivity to word-settings that is admirable, with singers and chorus of high quality, all in clear and well-balanced sound..."
John W Barker - American Record Guide - September/October 2013
Performance **** Recording ****
"...When the two works go head to head (as here for the first time on disc), Scarlatti’s beautifully crafted setting is undeniably worth hearing - out to show his adopted city that ’when in Rome’ he could ’do as the Romans so’, only beter. Yet andel buried hs Italian colleagures full fathom five with a work of irestistable vigour, charisma and harmonic inventiveness. Handel’s opening chorus, and the concluding ’Gloria Patri’ proves a glorious earful. Owen Rees’s perceptive direction keeps the contrasting layers balanced and he has assembled a srong solo team - headed up by Elin Manahan Thomas and Matthew Brook - to complement the attentive playing of the Brook Street band."
Paul Riley - BBC Music magazine - September 2013