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CD Reviews: Classical reviews.

Byline: Reviewed by Christopher Morley

Handel - Coronation Anthems (Naxos) The only disappointment on this budget-price release is the performance of the work which will have attracted many to it, Zadok the Priest. In the rich acoustic of the Dukes Hall at London's Royal Academy of Music the middle register in the famous, spine-tingling orchestral introduction emerges as decidedly tubby, swamping the small corpus of upper strings in Jeremy Summerly's Royal Academy Consort. The eventual entry of the Tallis Chamber Choir seems over-wrought, though diction is already superb, as it will be throughout the disc. The remaining three Coronation Anthems generally fare much better. Let thy Hand be strengthened, with reminders of other Handel works, has thrillingly cascading 'Alleluia's'; The King shall rejoice revels in the score's glorious suspensions, with exciting trumpets and drums; and My Heart is inditing, a simply wonderful piece, is sadly marred by some scrappy solo singing.

Not an accusation one can level at soprano Rebecca Ryan for her scintillating contribution to the extended virtuoso motet Silete Venti. Pure and true-voiced, she communicates this splendid work vividly and compellingly; it's worth shelling out a fiver for this alone.

To order this CD for pounds 4.99, including postage, call the Birmingham Post Music Line on 01634 832 789 HHHHInnovation Chamber Ensemble - Ice on Fire (Blue Rhythm)One of the many exciting spin-off groups formed by CBSO members, the Innovation Chamber Ensemble is a small, conductor-less, string orchestra, with cellist Richard Jenkinson its artistic director.

ICE's memorable inaugural concert at the CBSO Centre last September is here captured in this live CD recording, featuring works by Mozart, Boccherini and Samuel Barber, as well as an especially treasurable, movingly fragile Elgar Serenade for Strings.

There were also two premieres: the UK one of Robert Farnon's beautifully-crafted, simply affecting Song of Scandia, and the first-ever hearing of Worcester-based Paul da Vinci's Hope Concerto for Cello and Solo Strings, 'contemporary' music as cosy as Laura Ashley wallpaper, this, and about as stimulating (no pain, no gain).

Packaging needs to be re-considered for future releases: the artwork will strike some as glamourised, and the proof-reading will strike all as shoddy. HHHH To order this CD for pounds 12.99, including postage, call the Birmingham Post Music Line on 01634 832 789
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 8, 2003
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