HANDEL Acis and Galatea
This lively performance of Handel's English masque, Acis and Galatea was issued on LP ten years ago. In a detailed review, my late colleague Roger Fiske gave it a warm welcome though not an unqualified one. John Eliot Gardiner's direction is stylish and affectionate but these were comparatively early days in the British revival of period instruments and even the most casual of listeners will detect both ensemble and intonation problems in various departments, vocal and instrumental. Some of the oboe playing suffers particularly in this latter respect but considered in context with the many delightful features of the performance we should not, perhaps, worry overmuch.
The solo team who, with an additional tenor, Paul Elliot, also sing the choruses, are, by and large a strong one with fine contributions especially from Norma Burrowes and Anthony Rolfe Johnson. Martyn Hill makes a fine Damon and gives an excellent account of his aria, ''Shepherd, what art thou pursuing''. His diction is excellent and his sensibility to the text a pleasure to listen to. Willard White is a fairly convincing Polyphemus but he does not really capture the humour of the role, which is a pity, nor does he make much of the contrasting sides of the giant's character. This for me is the only real disappointment in an otherwise enjoyable performance. Clear but not outstanding recorded sound, and full text provided.'