Handel: L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; Tamerlano; Il Pastor Fido, Alcina - John Eliot Gardiner (6 CDs)
Handel: L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; Tamerlano Derek Lee Ragin (Tamerlano), Nigel Robson (Bajazet), Nancy Argenta (Asteria), Michael Chance (Andronico), Jane Findlay (Irene), René Schirrer (Leone); Alcina: ballet music; Il pastor fido: ballet music; Terpsichore: ballet music
Taking Milton as his starting point, Handel illustrated in music the contrasts of mood and character between the cheerful and the thoughtful. Then, prompted by his librettist, Charles Jennens, he added compromise in Il Moderato, the moderate man. The sequence of brief numbers is a delight, particularly in a performance as exhilarating as Gardiner's, with excellent soloists, choir and orchestra. The recording is first rate.