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Sir Adrian Boult made a selection of Decca recordings in the 1950s and 60s ranging from Baroque repertoire (Bach, Handel) to the music of the 20th century – most notably the first eight Vaughan Williams symphonies. Coupled together for the first time on CD are his two major Handel recordings for Decca – of the oratorio Messiah and the pastoral masque Acis and Galatea. Messiah is performed in unashamed grand tradition and this reissue is notable for the fact that it includes, as a bonus track, the first ever release of the tenor version of the recitative and arioso ‘Thy rebuke … Behold and see’. The alternative version for soprano was chosen for the main recording and this wonderfully pliant reading by Kenneth McKellar will come as a revelation to many. Joan Sutherland appears on both works and the rest of the cast includes several notable singers living and/or working in England at the time – Peter Pears, David Ward, Owen Brannigan and David Galliver. The booklet includes the original notes as well as full texts for both works.

‘behind everything lies the sensibility of Boult, who brings to the performance a spiritual conviction’ (Messiah) Gramophone

The cast selected for this recording is excellent, and each of the four principal singers possesses a telling dramatic style as well as a fine command of phrasing and timbre. Joan Sutherland is a perfect Galatea; her voice conveys magisterially that somewhat difficult ideal—not a simple country girl, but an eighteenth-century actress playing in a slightly sophisticated manner at being what she knows perfectly well she is not. […]crisp and incisive playing when it is needed, and pathos rich in sonority where the score and the sentiment demand it … special praise must go to Thurston Dart’s witty harpsichord continuo realisations, and Handel lovers of any vintage will probably enjoy Owen Brannigan’s s bluff and swaggering Polyphemus. --GRAMOPHONE

Alternative recitative/arioso: ‘Thy rebuke … Behold and see’*

Joan Sutherland, soprano
Grace Bumbry, alto
Kenneth McKellar, tenor*
David Ward, bass
London Symphony Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Adrian Boult

Acis and Galatea
Alternative aria: ‘O ruddier than the cherry’°
Joan Sutherland, soprano (Galatea)
Sir Peter Pears, tenor (Acis)
Owen Brannigan, bass (Polyphemus)°
David Galliver, tenor (Damon)
St. Anthony Singers
Philomusica of London
Sir Adrian Boult

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