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Following the success of their recording of Handel’s ‘Alexander’s Feast’, which ‘fizzes with energy, sounding fresh off the page’ (Times), Ludus Baroque presented his overlooked masterpiece, ‘The Triumph of Time and Truth.’ Premiered on 11th March 1757 at Covent Garden Theatre, London, Handel’s opera proved such a hit with London audiences that it was performed three times that year with a further two performances the following year.
‘The Triumph of Time and Truth’ sets out a contest between Beauty who, admiring herself in a mirror, wishes she could arrest the passage of Time, encouraged by Pleasure who promises her that her charms will never fade, and Time and Truth who warn that youth does not last... The plot draws from Handel some gorgeous music and a fiery interplay between the five protagonists and chorus. In Ludus Baroque’s line up of internationally-acclaimed soloists, Marie Arnet and Mary Bevan sang Beauty and Deceit, with Ed Lyon’s Pleasure in a battle of wits with William Berger’s Time and Tim Mead’s Truth. They were joined by an orchestra of gut strings, colourful woodwind and soaring brass, as well as a chorus comprising a sensational selection of singers from Britain’s finest early music consorts, including the Monteverdi Choir, the Sixteen, Polyphony and the Gabrieli and King’s Consorts.
Following the success of their recording of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, which ‘fizzes with energy, sounding fresh off the page’ (Times), Ludus Baroque presented his overlooked masterpiece, The Triumph of Time and Truth. Renowned for their insightful interpretations of Handel’s works, the ensemble gave this unique oratorio – a dream-like meditation on Truth, Pleasure and Time – new life through a fresh performing edition by Clifford Bartlett. Featuring the UK’s finest baroque musicians alongside soloists Sophie Bevan (soprano), Mary Bevan (soprano), Robin Blaze (counter tenor), Ed Lyon (tenor) and William Berger (bass).
Lauded for their 'energy ... vigour' and 'exuberant performance' (Independent), Ludus Baroque's annual performance of Bach's B Minor Mass has become one of the staple events of the summer. Under the direction of Richard Neville-Towle, this unmissable performance featured some of the UK's finest baroque instrumentalists alongside soloists Mary Bevan (soprano), Tim Mead (counter tenor), Ed Lyon (tenor) and William Berger (bass), in the atmospheric surroundings of Canongate Kirk.
THESE 19 young choristers, an expert team of period instrumentalists, a brilliant bunch of soloists,
inspiringly conducted by Richard Neville-Towle, have become a small Edinburgh Festival in
For two evenings each year, just before the official festival, they assemble in the gleaming surroundings of Canongate Kirk to give gripping performances of Bach and Handel, with the B Minor Mass a recurring theme and, this week, Handel's Triumph of Time and Truth as an enticing rarity.
As a sunny evening gradually dissolved into darkness, the sight of blue skies, big trees and fine distant architecture through the church's windows – no stained glass here – conveyed the passage of time with the stealth of Handel's oratorio itself. The work is a masterpiece, dating from the composer's early years but more than once updated and enhanced by him in the course of his long career, until in its 1757 version, favoured by this week's performers, it was hailed as "Handel's last oratorio".
From orchestral introduction through to final bracing Hallelujah Chorus (for which the large audience was invited to stand) singers and players made much of the music's ravishingly varied pleasures. Counter-tenor Tim Mead sang Truth's slumber aria to perfection, and with such feeling that its succession of softly floating phrases stood out amid the sharper-edged commentaries of Beauty, Deceit, Pleasure and Time who, characterised by Sophie Bevan, Mary Bevan, Ed Lyon and William Berger, added their own vivid eloquence.
For most of the audience the performance must have been real Handelian revelation, and a sublime prelude to the Bach B Minor Mass, delivered the following night, which impressively captured its fervour, pathos, exuberance, pain and beauty.
The way the singers softly felt their way into so many of the choruses before bringing them to finely etched climaxes spoke well for a conductor whose keen response to the music grows more and more astute. The Sanctus swung to admiration and instrumental solos were vividly projected. Three of the previous night's solo singers, plus Robin Blaze as the heartfelt counter-tenor in the Agnus Dei, contributed tellingly. Ed Lyon was haunting in the brief Benedictus and William Berger was the most articulate of baritones.
Conrad Wilson, The Herald
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page updated: 29th October 2012