Belshazzar (HWV 61) is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel. The libretto was by Charles Jennens, and Handel abridged it considerably. Jennens' libretto was based on the Biblical account of the fall of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus the Great and the subsequent freeing of the Jewish nation, as found in the Book of Daniel.
Handel composed Belshazzar in the late Summer of 1744 concurrently with Hercules, during a time that Winton Dean calls "the peak of Handel's creative life".The work premiered the following Lenten season on 27 March 1745 at the King's Theatre, London.The work fell into neglect after Handel's death, with revivals of the work occurring in the United Kingdom in 1847, 1848 and 1873.With the revival of interest in Baroque music and historically informed musical performance since the 1960s, Belsahzzar receives performances in concert form today and is also sometimes fully staged as an opera.
In late February 1653, just after the Fronde rebellion, the most influential spectacle of the early reign of Louis XIV was presented at the Louvre: the Ballet Royal de la Nuit. Grandiose, and carefully elaborated at the highest levels of the state, the libretto by Benserade called upon the finest artists of the time. Banishing the troubles of night, Louis XIV danced in the Sun King costume that would henceforth be forever associated with him. This unmissable world premiere recording presents a reconstruction of the work created by Sebastien Dauce that includes music by Jean de Cambefort, Antoine Boesset, Louis Constantin, Michel Lambert, Francesco Cavalli and Luigi Rossi.
This is a reissue of a recording from 1993 (re-released a few years ago and deleted in 2003), recently remastered for SACD, and it really impresses with a renewed presence and impact, even on standard CD playback. As I said in my original review, Savall's reading "comes as close as these things can to placing us in the best seat in the house and treats us to a rare experience: the sensation of believing we're hearing a ruggedly familiar piece for the first time. Literally bursting with energy, scintillating strings, blazing horns, and incisive winds, and never boring even for one second, these performances give you Handel at his most exciting." If you have the earlier release, you probably don't need this one–unless you now own an SACD system–but it does deserve a place in every Handel collection, not only for the unsurpassed performances, but also for the effect of Savall's several decidedly "non-standard" tempos(!), and of course for the phenomenal sound, which now must have reached its ultimate realism in this format.
Camel are an English progressive rock band formed in 1971. Led by founder member Andrew Latimer, they have produced 14 original studio albums, 14 singles plus numerous other compilation and live albums. The band's music combines elements taken from jazz, classical and Baroque music, blues and electronic music. Pressure Points: Live in Concert is a live album by progressive rock band Camel, released in 1984.