At the dawn of opera in Venice, Monteverdi's pupil Cavalli and the poet G.F Busenello, created Gli amori d'Apollo e di Dafne. This fruitful collaboration inaugurated a cycle which, together with L’Incoronazione di Poppea, was to become emblematic of the new Venetian opera.The present recording spares no effort to recreate the magnificence that was to make Italian music the 'mistress of the world.
An astonishing record of James and the Flames tearing the roof off the sucker at the mecca of R&B theatres, New York's Apollo. When King Records owner Syd Nathan refused to fund the recording, thinking it commercial folly, Brown single-mindedly proceeded anyway, paying for it out of his own pocket…
Handel's Apollo e Dafne is a difficult work to put in context. Completed in Hanover in 1710 but possibly begun in Italy, its purpose isn't clear, while, as secular cantatas go, it's long (40 minutes) and ambitiously scored for two soloists and an orchestra of strings, oboes, flute, bassoon and continuo. But this isn't just a chunk of operatic experimentation: it sets its own, faster pace than the leisurely unfolding of a full-length Baroque stage-work, yet its simple Ovidian episode, in which Apollo's pursuit of the nymph Dafne results in her transformation into a tree, is drawn with all the subtlety and skill of the instinctive dramatic genius that Handel was.
Composed in Rome in 1707, Clori, Tirsi e Fileno is one of Handel’s longer Italian cantatas and, if not quite matching the brilliance of Apollo e Dafne or Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, it remains a thoroughly engaging piece. Nicholas McGegan’s lively 1990 recording captures the music’s air of beguiling insouciance, Lorraine Hunt is in sweetly majestic voice as the capricious shepherdess Clori and there are deft obbligato flourishes from Elizabeth Blumenstock (violin) and Paul O’Dette (archlute). In sum, a delight.