Sunday, 13 April 2008

93. George Friedric Handel - Coronation Anthems (1727)


Title: Coronation Anthems
Performers: Choir of King's College Cambridge, The Academy of Ancient Music.
Director: Stephen Cleobury
Year: 2001
Length: 36 minutes


Solely for the first track this recording is worth listening to. Zadok the Priest has of course been raped by modernity, being modified to be the Champions League theme (thankfully modified enough that it doesn't affect the original), and in Britain it is also the music for the adverts for P&O cruises.

Other than that, however it is one of the most spectacular openings of any music, the slow build-up of strings, followed by a little harmonic side-step, and then by the powerful opening chorus just makes for really exciting music.

The rest of the anthems are equally good, representing different aspects of the whole ceremony of the coronation, however, none of them beats Zadok, for cheer pomp and circumstance. And for that reason it has played in every British coronation since it was composed.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Zadok the Priest is written for SS-AA-T-BB chorus and orchestra (two oboes, two bassoons, three trumpets, timpani, strings, continuo). The music builds up tension in its orchestral introduction, by layering semiquavers and quavers together, and then—when the choir comes in—a sense of drama by having the choir sing in the longer notes of crotchets and minims.

The middle section "And all the people rejoic'd, and said" is an imitatory dance in 3/4 time, mainly with the choir singing chordally and a dotted rhythm in the strings.

The final section "God save the King, etc" is a return to common time (4/4), with the "God Save the King" section heard chordally, interspersed with the Amens incorporating long semiquaver runs which are taken in turn through the six voice parts (SAATBB) with the other parts singing quaver chords accompanying it. The chorus ends with a largo Baroque cadence on "Alleluia".

Zadok the Priest, by Robert King and the King's Consort:

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