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Track(s) taken from CDA66361/2

Look down, harmonious saint

? 1736; composed for Alexander's Feast but omitted; music first used in Cecilia, volgi un sguardo
author of text
The Power of Musick

John Mark Ainsley (tenor), The King's Consort, Robert King (conductor)
Recording details: July 1989
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: February 1990
Total duration: 11 minutes 56 seconds


'McFadden is a loving Galatea, Ainsley a charming Acis, and Covey-Crump a finely polished Damon. Michael George is magnificent—a nimble but ferocious Polyphemus whose every note is absolutely centred' (BBC Music Magazine Top 1000 CDs Guide)

'An unfailingly delightful work, beautifully performed and recorded' (Gramophone)

'A first-class Handel release' (American Record Guide)

'Une des plus délicieuses partitions du XVIII Siècle' (L'Avant Scene Opera)
The origins of the cantata Look down, harmonious saint are slightly uncertain, for it is thought that the work was originally intended to be part of Handel’s oratorio Alexander’s Feast, whose St Cecilia’s Day Ode in praise of music by Dryden was augmented by Newburgh Hamilton’s The Power of Music. Alexander’s Feast was first performed at Covent Garden in February 1736, but Look down, harmonious saint was not included. Instead it appeared in the cantata Cecilia, volgi un sguardo which was performed at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, in the same month. Whatever Handel’s original intentions and reasons, on its own Look down, harmonious saint happily forms a small cantata, with a da capo aria preceded by an accompanied recitative. In particular, the central section, ‘It charms the soul’, is given a ravishing setting, full of suspensions and rich harmonies, before the virtuoso opening Allegro returns.

from notes by Robert King © 1989

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