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Musical World

Marc Minkowski

  • Conductor


Marc Minkowski press reviews

Minkowski's latest album stumbles on the happy idea to sing Cecilia's
praises through the mouthpiece of three of 2009's most august
anniversarians. Logistics precluded inclusion of the mammoth last
version of Haydn's Cäcilienmesse, so with Jesuitical aplomb
Minkowski opts for the earliest state of the work - a Kyrie and Gloria
- then undermines the cunning scholarly rectitude by adding two
movements of the later Credo by way of 'encore'. Perhaps the
justification lies in the listening since it facilitates a wonderfully
intense 'Crucifixus' and an 'Et resurrexit' which ends disc 2 on a
blistering high.

Captivating as it is to have a continental perspective on that most continental of English composers, the Purcell Ode
- for all Minkowski's idiomatic theatricality and consummate synthesis
of its French and Italian elements - registers less powerfully than the
Handel. In part it's because Anders Dahlin's tenor never quite
integrates the music's rhetorical diversity, and the choir, recessed in
the sound picture, sounds a tad woolly. Lucy Crowe, however, is a
natural Purcellian, and gilds the discs' triumph: Handel's A Song for St Cecilia's Day,
a thrilling encounter with Dryden unmediated. Galvanised by Minkowski's
exquisite detailing, the Musiciens du Louvre is on white-hot form
throughout, but in the Handel, Nils Wieboldt's plangent cello sets the
scene for 'What Passion' with such ear-tugging sensitivity a lesser
singer than Crowe might have been utterly sidelined. Hail to Purcell
and Haydn, but here Handel is the brightest Cecilia of all.

Paul Riley

BBC Magazine