The Gramophone Choice
‘Music for the Peace of Utrecht’
Handel ‘Utrecht’ Te Deum. ‘Utrecht’ Jubilate, HWV279 Croft Ode for the Peace of Utrecht, ‘With Noise of Cannon’
Nicki Kennedy sop William Towers counterten Wolfram Lattke, Julian Podger tens Peter Harvey bass Netherlands Bach Society / Jos van Veldhoven
Channel Classics CCSSA29610 (73’ · DDD/DSD · T) Buy from Amazon
The Treaty of Utrecht concluded the War of Spanish Succession in 1713. Its terms were agreed principally between the British and the opposing French, but this caused disaffection among Britain’s German allies, including the Elector of Hanover (soon to be George I). The Elector was also disgruntled that his Kapellmeister Handel, absent and pursuing lucrative freelance jobs in London, composed a large-scale Te Deum and Jubilate for the Service of Thanksgiving held in Wren’s recently completed St Paul’s Cathedral.
This new recording by the Netherlands Bach Society has been produced in collaboration with the Treaty of Utrecht Foundation, as the city gears up towards the tercentenary commemoration in 2013 of ‘the first peace achieved through diplomacy’. Jos van Veldhoven’s excellent Dutch musicians are joined by a team of mostly English soloists. ‘To thee all angels cry aloud’ is sung with tense drama by the incisive chorus, Julian Podger and William Towers. ‘When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man’ has sensitive contributions from oboist Michael Niesemann and high tenor Wolfram Lattke, and the accompaniment of ‘We believe that thou shalt come’ (an adaptation of ‘De torrente’ from Dixit Dominus) is played gently by the strings and flautist Marten Root. The Netherlands Bach Society fires on all cylinders.
The programme concludes with William Croft’s ode With Noise of Cannon (1713). Performed at Oxford, this partly commemorated the Peace Treaty but also supported the Master of the Chapel Royal’s obtaining of a doctorate. Croft had been a chorister under Purcell and Blow; the stylistic link between Croft’s forbears and the newcomer Handel is manifest in charismatic details such as agile trumpets and echoing dance-like strings in the overture, and the tender duet ‘Peace is the Song’ (sung finely by Peter Harvey and William Towers). As one expects from Channel Classics, the superb sound engineering and the artistic integrity of the project are second to none.