Richard Morrison at the Barbican [Times Online, 8 Mar 05]
GROUCHO MARX once quipped: “I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.” Bizarrely, that flashed through my mind as I was gripped, ravished and finally moved to tears by this early Handel oratorio. Here was George Frideric before he became, if not a virgin, then something even more pious: the stately, sedate cheerleader for the Hanoverian dynasty.
He was 21 when he wrote Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (The triumph of Time and Enlightenment). And its dazzling cascade of arias and duets, each more exhilarating and quirkily concocted than the one before, suggests a young German intent on making a big splash in sophisticated Rome. Indeed, at one point Handel suspends the story so that he can slip in an organ concerto, simply to show off his own keyboard prowess.
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