Apollo and Dafne
Concert performance; English translation by Gilly French
Wigmore Hall, 9 February 2012
|Christopher Bucknall||Harpsichord and director|
The Bampton Classical Players
Persephone Gibbs, Elizabeth McCarthy, Miki Takahasi violin; Emma Alter viola; Jonathan Byers cello; Kate Aldridge double bass; Georgia Brown flute; Rachel Chaplin, Sarah Humphreys oboe; Zoe Shevlin bassoon.
The story of Apollo e Dafne conforms to the typical pastoral setting for these cantatas. The god Apollo revels in the glory of freeing Greece from the terror and devastation wrought by a monstrous Python. With typical warrior-like bravado, Apollo boasts in two bellicose arias of his conquering arm and his mighty bow and arrow that are a match even to cupids. However, this boasting is short-lived as his eyes and ears fall on the gorgeous nymph Dafne, singing a most delicate aria with a tender flute melody accompanied by pizzicato strings. Ensnared by Dafne’s charms, Apollo tries to seduce her. With a succession of varied arias interspersed with brief secco recitatives, Handel builds the tension of Apollo’s misguided and increasingly desperate approach and Dafne’s constant and firm rebuttal of it. Eventually Dafne’s only escape from Apollo’s approaches is to transform herself into a laurel tree. The final chase and its abrupt conclusion are brilliantly demonstrated by the frenetic concerto grosso movement that comes to a shuddering halt in the middle of a phrase as Apollo gives up the chase. Having lost her, Apollo reluctantly accepts his loss and grief in the poised beauty of the work’s final aria.
outstanding performance… well-conceived programme
BSECS February 2012