● CD PURE HANDEL − European Union Baroque Orchestra, Lars Ulrik Mortensen (director & harpsichord), Maria Keohane (soprano) − shortlisted for the GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2014 in the category of Recital.
Dedicated to Eric Bean (1927−2012). Eric Bean was one of the principal sponsors of EUBO (Panasonic Europe). He was a great supporter and true friend of the orchestra, becoming a trustee of EUBO.
“… technically excellent and propelled with exactly the right degree of driving energy by Lars Ulrik Mortensen, a director of great imagination and musicality with a special ability to find details in the music you maybe hadn’t registred before, draw them out and thrill you with them.” (Gramophone, 8 / 2013)
Shortlisted for the Gramophone Awards 2014 in the category of Recital
|1||Overture from Admeto HWV 22||4:56|
|2−8||Cantata Ero e Leandro HWV 150||25:59|
|9−18||Water Music Suite No 1 in F HWV 348||24:37|
|19−20||Cantata Ah! Che troppo ineguali HWV 230||9:51|
|21−24||Concerto grosso in F, Op 6 No 2 HWV 320||11:14|
|25||Aria Tu del Ciel ministro eletto from Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno HWV 46a||5:56|
#3, Cantata Ero e leandro, Aria, fragm, 2 min 14 sec, mp3, 160 Kbps
#9, Water Music, Ouverture, fragm, 2 min 15 sec, mp3, 160 Kbps
#22, Concerto grosso in F major, Allegro, 2 min 28 sec, mp3, 160 Kbps
#25, Aria Tu del Ciel ministro eletto, fragm, 3 min 42 sec, mp3, 160 Kbps
Music by George Frideric Handel
Performed by European Union Baroque Orchestra, Lars Ulrik Mortensen (director & harpsichord), Maria Keohane (#2−8, 19−20, 25)
Liner notes in English, French and German
Recorded 2008−2011 in Trifolion Centre Culturel, Touristique et de Congrès Echternach, Luxembourg
Engineered by Martin Souter and Carl Schuurbiers
Mastered by Carl Schuurbiers / Studio 4
Booklet compiled by Noora Heiskanen
Booklet edited by Inna Kivi and Tiina Jokinen
Photos by Paul James and from the archives of EUBO
Design by Mart Kivisild
Produced by Peeter Vähi in collaboration with Paul James
Special thanks: European Commission, EUBO Development Trust, Ville d’Echternach, Luxembourg Ministry of Culture, Festival International Echternach, Trifolion Centre Culturel, Touristique et de Congrès Echternach, École de Musique d’Echternach, Harmonie Municipale Echternach, Microsoft Europe, The Early Music Shop, Emma Wilkinson, Johanna Büker, Helena De Winter, Noora Heiskanen, Benedikt Herz, Heiko Sterner, Luc Cannivy
Total duration 79:00
Released in 2013
© EUBO, ERP
About the recording
Most orchestras would be profoundly embarrassed to release a CD recording which features completely different personnel on three consecutive tracks and only the Music Director the same! The European Union Baroque Orchestra, by contrast, is proud of this. As the orchestra renews and re-invents itself each year, choosing repertoire for CD recordings is difficult because, unlike other orchestras, there is no repertoire to fall back on.
EUBO prepares all its programmes from scratch annually, starting during an extensive rehearsal period in the summer. Wonderful as the works are, few concert promoters actually want to present all of Handel’s Opus 6 Concerti grossi, for example, in one performance so EUBO tries to plan “audience-friendly” programmes. Furthermore, as one of the aims of EUBO is to offer talented young musicians experience and varied performance opportunities, each tour during the season is undertaken by a different director, usually focussing on a different style. So, the possibilities of finding repertoire that would please a record company are even more restricted. But rising above these earthly problems is the genius of one particular composer, Handel.
EUBO returns again and again to the works of Handel, especially to his early compositions, written when he was living in Rome and was the same youthful age as members of EUBO are now. The cantata Ero e Leandro was written in 1707 in this fruitful period, when Handel was just 22 years old. It is one of the many dramatic secular cantatas (he wrote over 100) that filled a void created by a papal ban on opera at that time.
As there is no overture to Ero e Leandro, which is sometimes referred to by its first line “Qual ti riveggio”, Lars Ulrik Mortensen has added the Overture to Handel’s Admeto. The cantata has alternating recitatives and arias set the final tragic moments of the story of the brave Leandro (Leander) who swims each night across the Hellespont (nowadays called the Dardanelles, a narrow dangerous strait between Europe and Asia in modern day Turkey) to meet his lover the priestess Ero (Hero), who is being held against her will by Aphrodite. The cantata opens with Ero’s ghastly discovery of her lover’s drowned body washed up on the shore. She rants at the elements, then falls into despair, and eventually resigns herself to be reunited in death with Leandro. EUBO’s concertmaster Huw Daniel comments: “One of the most extraordinary moments is the B section of the first aria, where only a solo violin and basso continuo play with Ero: in contrast to the A section which depicts the pitiless sea and cruel waves”. The work closes, rather unusually, with a recitative, giving a feeling of incompleteness as if Ero’s death can never fully be consummated.
When programming the Water Music Suite, Lars Ulrik Mortensen said: “For me − and presumably for the majority of today’s listeners − the sounds of Handel’s Water Music are among the most familiar of Baroque music. But sometimes this very familiarity may hinder our appreciation of the novelty and freshness of a particular work. I have tried to pretend that the music is completely unknown to me, and this game has certainly reminded me of important features in the Water Music that I had previously forgotten: the wonderfully unpredictable whirlwind progress of the second half of the Ouverture, the well-timed shock of the oboe solo, the inimitable “Handel-colour” of bassoon and low strings playing melodies in the second minuet, and much more…”
The second dramatic cantata Ah! Che troppo ineguali was also composed during Handel’s early years in Italy at the beginning of the 18th century. Like Ero e Leandro, it speaks of profound sorrow and is a work of intense psychological depth, but this time of a sacred nature. Consisting of a simple recitative followed by a single aria, it is a Marian hymn, full of Catholic devotion: the soul personalized by the figure of Maria who prays for forgiveness.
Handel’s first set of Concerti grossi Opus 3 was hastily assembled by his publisher − indeed it is unlikely that Handel took part in their publication. By contrast, it seems that Handel took great care over the composition of his Opus 6 and a large proportion of the music was newly composed. This set is surely a conscious and fitting hommage to Corelli’s widely-admired set of concerti grossi of the same opus number. According to Huw Daniel: “The second concerto is a complete joy to play: the first movement is full of rich, sumptuous harmonies; the second is playful and ornamental; the third movement starts off with a dramatic recitative section, which eventually melts into one of the most magical passages in the whole of Opus 6; the fugal last movement introduces two themes – one strong and angular, and the other soft and smooth – which Handel skilfully combines at the end of the piece”.
When Swedish soprano Maria Keohane first started working with EUBO, Lars Ulrik Mortensen asked her what she would like to perform as an encore. She suggested Belezza’s (Beauty’s) aria Tu del Ciel ministro eletto, which concludes Handel’s very first oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (The Triumph of Time and Truth). Appropriately it is, like the two featured santatas, another work from Handel’s prodigiously productive time in Rome in 1707. It is without question a beautifully crafted micro-masterpiece of staggering musical maturity and emotional depth for a 22 year old composer. From the very first rehearsal with EUBO in 2009, Maria and Huw’s performances reduced the entire orchestra to tears − and in an instant became and remains EUBO’s signature tune.
The European Union Baroque Orchestra, Cultural Ambassador for the European Union, is like no other orchestra: EUBO auditions and selects completely new personnel every year. EUBO’s ephemeral existence makes its concerts special: live performances enjoying all the technical accomplishment of the best young Baroque musicians in Europe, allied to an infectious undimmed sense of discovery and enjoyment.
Members of EUBO come from all over the EU to gain experience, working together for a six-month season with Music Director Lars Ulrik Mortensen and some of the world’s leading guest directors, including Enrico Onofri, Roy Goodman, Alexis Kossenko, Ton Koopman, Christina Pluhar, Margaret Faultless, Riccardo Minasi, Paul Agnew and Gottfried von der Goltz. Tours take them to all corners of Europe – from celebrated city concert halls, to seaside summer festivals, to monasteries nestling in autumnal forests, and to winter celebrations in beautiful churches. And at the centre of these great arcs of European travelling EUBO has established residencies in several cities, most notably as “orchestra-in-residence” in Echternach, Luxembourg, where, with the support of its local partners, it is creating a centre of excellence for baroque music.
Download: photo of EUBO 2010
Maria Keohane is a Swedish soprano whose repertoire spans a wide spectrum of music styles from Baroque to contemporary, including chamber music, opera and oratorio. She started her training as a singer while she was still working in the veterinary field and when she is not performing somewhere in the world, she lives on a farm in rural Sweden, combining her love of the country life and the glamour of her performing career. Maria finished her studies at the Royal Opera Academy in Copenhagen in June 2003 and has since performed worldwide with some of the best early music directors and soloists. Recently she performed with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco and with Concerto Copenhagen at Wiener Konzerthaus. While she has performed in many operas, for instance at the Drottningholm Royal Theatre in Stockholm or the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, she is now increasingly in demand as an oratorio singer, working with directors such as Martin Gester, Roy Goodman, Jakob Lindberg, Andrew Manze, Nicholas McGegan, Andrew Parrott and Lars Ulrik Mortensen. Maria has recorded several CDs and has also participated in many television and radio productions, including a film about Bach’s cantata Weichet nur with the European Union Baroque Orchestra in 2009. She has been awarded the Reumert Prize, one of Denmark’s most prestigious theatre prizes, for her role as Armida in Handel’s Rinaldo in 2005 and has been honoured several times by The Royal Swedish Academy.
When Lars Ulrik Mortensen began studying musicology at university, he came across a book about English music for the virginal – he was fascinated, and it led him to the harpsichord. He studied first in Copenhagen and then in London, becoming harpsichordist with London Baroque and Collegium Musicum 90. In 2004, after a long association with the European Union Baroque Orchestra as harpsichord tutor and guest director, Lars Ulrik Mortensen became its Music Director. A Financial Times reviewer, writing after a EUBO concert, said “Mortensen is exceptional not just for his scholarship and virtuosity at the keyboard, but also because he makes music with his entire body and soul.” In his home country Lars Ulrik is the artistic director of Concerto Copenhagen, whose opera productions at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen have helped to build a profile for the group nationally and internationally. In addition to his work with his “own” orchestras, Lars Ulrik also performs extensively as guest director, soloist and chamber musician in Europe, the USA, Japan and Australia, with distinguished colleagues including Emma Kirkby, Susanne Rydén, Maria Keohane, John Holloway and Jaap ter Linden. Lars Ulrik Mortensen has received a number of prizes, among them Denmark’s most prestigious music award, the Léonie Sonning Music Prize in 2007. Lars Ulrik Mortensen’s many CD recordings have reaped major awards. Directing Concerto Copenhagen, his recent recordings include the complete harpsichord concertos by J S Bach, Haydn piano concertos, as well as symphonies by Danish composers Hartmann, Kunzen and Gerson.
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See also other EUBO’s recordings released by ERP: Joy and Sorrow Unmasked
See also other Baroque music recordings released by ERP: Vivaldi per Pisendel, World Premiere Recordings, Vivaldi senza basso, Vertigo, The Well-Tempered Clavier I
See also EUBO at Glasperlenspiel Festival
Listen to the live recording of EUBO