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Hyperion Records

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The Great Gate, Trinity College by William Westall (1781-1850)
Rudolph Ackermann’s ‘A History of the University of Cambridge', 1815 / Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge
Track(s) taken from CDA67926
Recording details: July 2012
Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: July 2013
Total duration: 20 minutes 0 seconds

'Three cheers for three more anthems for the Duke of Chandos to complement the same already available from the same conductor and choir … Stephen Layton directs his young singers with such a perfect control of texture and rhythm … Susan Gritton charms with the dotted rhythm of 'O magnify the Lord' and Thomas Hobbs—assisted by violins and recorders—delicately evokes a pastoral scene in his first air' (Gramophone)

'Layton is a peerless Handelian, master of the architecture, yet constantly alert to enlivening nuances that only seem obvious with hindsight … Susan Gritton's radiant soprano, Iestyn Davies's immaculately contoured countertenor and the appropriately 'English' tenor of Thomas Hobbs are the icing on the cake' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Stephen Layton has drilled his singers to perfection in this trio of Handel's Chandos Anthems, making every word distinct and every crisp consonant a taut springboard on which to propel Handel's irresistible rhythm, aided by some wonderfully tight playing from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Thomas Hobbs is the stand-out soloist, his delightfully light and easy tenor perfect for this repertoire' (The Observer)

'This volume is every bit as good as the first, with an outstanding solo line-up and compelling, razor-sharp performances … soloists, choir and orchestra are outstanding under Layton's intelligent, stylish direction, allowing the surface details to sparkle against a fluid rendering of the basic architecture … beautifully recorded and with excellent booklet notes by Graydon Beeks, this recording is a must, not only for lovers of Handel's music but of fine choral singing' (International Record Review)

As pants the hart 'Chandos Anthem No 6a', HWV251b
author of text
after Psalm 42

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The first pair of Chandos Anthems included As pants the hart, HWV251b, which draws its text from Psalm 42. It is an expanded version of an anthem with organ accompaniment that Handel had written for the English Chapel Royal, probably in late 1712. The text of the opening chorus comes not from the King James Bible or the Prayer Book but rather from an anthem attributed to Dr John Arbuthnot, Queen Anne’s private physician and one of Handel’s earliest English friends. The use of this text again in 1717 was presumably a tribute to Arbuthnot, who very likely introduced Handel to Brydges.

The opening two-movement sonata features virtuosic writing for the first violin and a cleverly constructed fugue. The chorus that follows, ‘As pants the hart for cooling streams’, is built on a point of imitation that had been used throughout the seventeenth century. Although there are only three vocal parts (soprano, tenor and bass), the contrapuntal texture is often in four parts with the oboe providing the additional voice.

The soprano aria ‘Tears are my daily food’ begins with a duet between the oboe and bassoon and subsequently contrasts the languid nature of ‘tears’ with the pointed interjections of ‘where is now thy God?’. The following recitative features the first violin playing rapidly arpeggiated chords representing the agitation of the singer as he remarks, ‘Now when I think thereupon, I pour out my heart by myself’. The tenor soloist here and elsewhere in the Cannons Anthems needs a light voice with good flexibility and access to reliable high notes. The specific singer for whom Handel wrote may have been a late example of what at the end of the seventeenth century would have been termed a ‘low countertenor’.

The chorus ‘In the voice of praise and thanksgiving’ again displays Handel’s contrapuntal skill, presenting the thematic material in both its original and inverted forms. The following duet, ‘Why so full of grief, O my soul?’, pairs oboe and violin and then soprano and tenor over a walking bass. Most of the interplay is contrapuntal, with the singers posing questions to each other. This makes the moments when they sing together—such as the repetitions of ‘why’ near the end of the movement—especially dramatic.

The concluding chorus, ‘Put thy trust in God’, begins with a long florid passage for the tenor voice. Handel did not explicitly designate this to a solo voice, almost certainly because he had only one tenor singer for the initial performance at Cannons. When performed with larger vocal forces it makes sense to assign it to the tenor soloist, following the practice of contemporary Oxford-based musicians working under the direction of William Hayes, an experienced conductor of Handel’s music.

from notes by Graydon Beeks © 2013

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