A disappointing Handel disc from Adrian Butterfield

Handel: Chandos Te Deum and Chandos Anthem No. 8

London Handel Orchestra & Soloists, Adrian Butterfield

I looked forward to receiving this CD with some enthusiasm as Handel’s Chandos Anthem No. 8 ‘O come let us sing unto the Lord’, HWV 253 is a work that I greatly enjoy and his Chandos Te Deum, HWV281 was hitherto unknown to me.

For this recording Adrian Butterfield and the London Handel Orchestra are joined by the soloists Grace Davidson, Charles Daniels, Nicholas Mulroy, Edward Grist and Benedict Hymen¹. The CD is supplied in a double cardboard sleeve which also contains a brief booklet largely taken up with an article entitled Handel at Cannons. The soloists and members of the London Handel Orchestra are listed but there are no artist biographies.

These are small scale Handel performances, as is customary nowadays, and this suits these works. However, on listening I was somewhat disappointed as something is lacking despite both works being well sung, well performed and being pleasing to the ear.

The Chandos Te Deum, HWV281 is quite an attractive piece but is by no means the best of Handel’s settings of the Te Deum. Much to be prefered is his Te Deum in D major ‘Dettingen’, HWV283 – there is a very good 2008 version from Stephen Layton and the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge & Academy of Ancient Music (Hyperion CDA67678).

In the case of the Chandos Anthem No. 8 both Harry Christophers and the Sixteen (Chandos CHAN0505) or, once again, Stephen Layton and the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge & Academy of Ancient Music (Hyperion CDA67926) are to be preferred. The latter uses slightly larger forces and features a stand-out performance from Thomas Hobbs together with two further fine soloists Susan Gritton and Iestyn Davies.

So all in all I can only recommend this release to readers desperate to become acquainted with the Chandos Te Deum, HWV281 since, to the best of my knowledge, there is currently no alternative version.

iClassical rating: 

¹ Benedict Hymen is the third tenor in the Te Deum.