Renowned countertenor Iestyn Davies and The King’s Consort present an outstanding programme of arias from Handel oratorios including the lyrical ‘O sacred oracles of truth’ (from Belshazzar), the exquisite ‘Tune your harps’ (Esther), with its vocal and oboe duet set over a delicate bed of pizzicato strings, ‘Eternal source of light’ (featuring supreme trumpet playing from Crispian Steele-Perkins), the melodious ‘Your tuneful voice’, and a virtuoso performance of the warlike ‘Mighty love now calls to arm’. Rarities include two arias from The Triumph of Time and Truth: ‘On the valleys, dark and cheerless’, and an especial jewel, ‘Mortals think that Time is sleeping’, with its gentle, inexorably tick-tocking orchestral accompaniment.
Iestyn is also joined in two duets by soprano Carolyn Sampson: the ecstatic ‘Welcome as the dawn of day’ (from Solomon) and the ghostly ‘Who calls my parting soul from death’ (Esther). The orchestral accompaniment from The King’s Consort is full of varied colours: the disc also includes the vividly characterised overture to Jephtha, and the bucolic overture to Samson, featuring splendid natural horn playing.
The disc was recorded in the unsurpassed acoustic of The Menuhin Hall, bringing great clarity to the sound. The presentation includes a 36 page booklet with an authoritative liner note by renowned Handel scholar Prof. Donald Burrows, together with full texts and translations, as well as five pages of photographs from the recording sessions.