The Handel Institute
The Handel Institute

The Stanley Sadie Handel Recording Prize 2013

AlessandroDecca 478 4699

Alessandro (HWV 21)

Alessandro: Max Emmanuel Cencic (countertenor)
Rossane: Julia Lezhneva (soprano)
Lisaura: Karina Gauvin (soprano)
Tassile: Xavier Sabata (countertenor)
Clito: In-Sung Sim (bass)
Leonato: Juan Sancho (tenor)
Cleone: Vasily Koroshev (countertenor)

Armonia Atenea
George Petrou (direction)

We are delighted to award first prize to Parnassus Arts Productions, Decca and all of the artists for their vibrant recording of Handel's Alessandro. First performed on 5 May 1726, this opera initiated the Royal Academy of Music's new artistic policy of producing operas designed for a prestigious triumvirate of Italian singers: the castrato Senesino (Alexander the Great), established star soprano Cuzzoni (Lisaura) and the new recruit Faustina (Rossane). Handel's score is packed full of outstanding music, and it gave rise to the famous epithet 'The Rival Queens' for its two leading sopranos, but the opera has been seldom performed or recorded. An old 1985 recording by Sigiswald Kuijken retains commendable aspects, but George Petrou's new performance trumps other versions by fielding three outstanding principals (Max Emanuel Cencic, Julia Lezhneva and Karina Gauvin), and an unusually consistent supporting cast of singers. The assertive band Armonia Atenea plays with fizzy panache. The panel of judges recognises the valuable contribution Petrou has made to the Handel opera discography in recent years, and hopes that the critical and artistic success of Alessandro encourages Parnassus Arts Productions to continue performing and recording complete baroque operas by Handel and his Italian contemporaries.

We also congratulate this year's close runners-up: a revelatory performance of the Cannons version of Esther by John Butt and The Dunedin Consort & Players (Linn), a diverse survey of Handel's writing for bass voice by Christopher Purves, Arcangelo and Jonathan Cohen ('Handel's Finest Arias for Base Voice'; Hyperion), and Lucy Crowe's recital album 'Il caro Sassone: Handel in Italy' (The English Concert, directed by Harry Bicket; Harmonia Mundi USA). The panel warmly encourages all of this year's finalists to continue producing fresh Handelian insights.

What is The Stanley Sadie Handel Prize?

It is a biennial award given to one distinctive new recording of Handel's music, chosen by a specially invited panel of scholars and journalists who each possess a special and informed interest in Handel's music. The winner is carefully selected from a comprehensive list of new recordings of Handel's music released during the previous two calendar years (in 2013 we decided to change from annual to biennial awards in order to increase the field of eligible candidates). The winner must satisfy tough criteria: it needs to combine fine interpretive quality with a penetrating or valuable insight into Handel's genius. Thus this Prize is an indication of a recording's quality and the significance of its contribution to Handelian knowledge.

One of the prize's founder panel members was the scholar, author and critic Stanley Sadie, and in 2005 the prize was renamed in his memory (its original title was the International Handel Recording Prize). We hope that this prize is warmly accepted as an appropriate legacy of Stanley's unusual ease at mingling enjoyable journalism and superb scholarship together. In some respects it was influenced by the now defunct American Handel Society Recording Prize (1991–8), but in 2002 an international panel of judges inaugurated a broader forum to nurture recognition to a new recording of Handel's music of noteworthy quality. This year's winner was chosen by judges from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Britain.


This Year's Panel of Judges:

Ivan A. Alexandre (Diapason and Le Nouvel Observateur – Paris)
Nicholas Anderson (Producer and writer, BBC Music Magazine – Taunton)
Sandra Bowdler (Director of Festival Baroque Australia, Opera critic – Perth)
Hugh Canning (The Sunday Times, International Record Review – London)
Colin Coleman (Librarian, Gerald Coke Handel Collection at the Foundling Museum– London)
Mikhail Fikhtengoltz (Handel scholar and Arts Administrator – Moscow)
Matthew Gardner (Handel scholar, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität –  Heidelberg)
Philippe Gelinaud (Handel scholar, Opéra Magazine – Paris)
Stephen Hastings (Editor of Musica – Varese)
Lindsay Kemp (Artistic director of the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, BBC Radio 3, Gramophone – London)
Francis Knights (Editor of Early Music – Cambridge)
Stefan Lipski (Göttingen Handel Festival)
David Vickers (The Handel Institute,, Royal Northern College of Music, Gramophone – Huddersfield)
Carlo Vitali (Musicologist, Amadeus, Opernwelt, Musical America - Bologna)

The Candidate List

(*denotes recordings nominated by the panel during the first round of voting)

Theatre Works:

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs; Harmonia Mundi (France)

Early Opera Company; Christian Curnyn; Chandos Chaconne

Deutsche Händel Solisten; Michael Form; Pan Classics

Armonia Atenea; George Petrou; Decca

*Alessandro Severo
Orchestra of Patras; George Petrou; Dabringhaus und Grimm

Alexander's Feast
Ludus Baroque; Richard Neville-Towle; Delphian

Il Complesso Barocco; Alan Curtis; Virgin

*Esther (1720 Cannons version)
The Dunedin Consort & Players; John Butt; Linn

Giulio Cesare
Bayerische Staatsoper; Ivor Bolton; Farao Classics

Stavanger Symphony Orchestra; Fabio Biondi; BIS

Apollo's Fire; Jeanette Sorrell; Avie

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir; Ivars Taurins; Tafelmusik

Tobias Horn; Animato

*Il pastor fido (1712 version)
La Nuova Musica; David Bates; Harmonia Mundi (USA)

The Sixteen; Harry Christophers; Coro

Song for St Cecilia's Day / Look Down, Harmonious Saint
Ludus Baroque; Richard Neville-Towle; Delphian

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; William Christie; Glyndebourne

Junge Kantorei; Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra; Joachim Carlos Martini; Naxos

Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno
Early Opera Company; Christian Curnyn; Wigmore Hall Live


Sacred works:

Dixit Dominus [and an abridged Birthday Ode for Queen Anne]
Apollo's Fire; Jeannette Sorrell; Avie



Aminta e Fillide (Cantatas, vol. 3) [premiere recording of first version]
Stefanie True (sop); Contrasto Armonico; Marco Vitale; Brilliant

Apollo e Dafne [and music from lost Hamburg operas]
Cantus Firmus Consort; Andreas Reize; CPO

Cantatas, vol. 4 [inc. several premiere recordings]
Stefanie True (sop); Contrasto Armonico; Marco Vitale; Brilliant

The Complete Italian Cantatas for Bass
Raimund Nolte (bass); Batzdorfer Hofkapelle; Accent

Nine German Arias
Dorothea Craxton; Naxos

Vocal recitals:


*A Handel Bestiary
Donna Leon (author); Il Complesso Barocco; Alan Curtis [book and CD exploring animals in Handel arias]

*Bad Guys
Xavier Sabata (countertenor); Il Pomo d'Oro; Riccardo Minasi; Aparté

Natalie Dessay (sop); Le Concert d'Astrée; Emmauelle Haïm; Virgin

*Duetti Italiani
Susanne Rydén (sop); Gemma Bertagnolli (sop); Harmonices Mundi; Claudio Astronio; Brilliant

*Handel's Finest Arias for Base Voice
Christopher Purves (bass); Arcangelo; Jonathan Cohen; Hyperion

*Il caro Sassone: Handel in Italy
Lucy Crowe (sop); The English Concert; Harry Bicket; Harmonia Mundi (USA)

*Streams of Pleasure (Oratorio Duets)
Karina Gauvin (sop); Marie-Nicole Lemiuex (alto); Il Complesso Barocco; Alan Curtis; Naïve


Orchestral / Instrumental:

*Concerti grossi, Opus 3
Concerto Copenhagen; Lars Ulrik Mortensen; CPO

'Handel's Memories – A Selection from Grand Concertos Op. 6'
Al Ayre Español; Eduardo López Banzo; Challenge Classics

*Concerti grossi, Opus 6
Combattimento Consort Amsterdam; Jan Willem de Vriend; Challenge Classics

*Organ concertos Vol. 2
Lorenzo Ghielmi (organ); Paulo Grazzi (oboe); La Divina Armonia; Passacaille

The Eight Great Suites
Lisa Smirnova (piano); ECM New Series

Violin Sonatas
Riccardo Minasi (vn); Musica Antiqua Roma; Deutsche Harmonia Mundi

Violin Sonatas
Julia Schröder; Deutsche Harmonia Mundi

Violin Sonatas
Ensemble Vintage Köln; Naxos


Saarländisches Staatsorchester; Konrad Junghänel (cond.); Peter Lund (producer); Intergroove Classics [also issued on CD]

Marc Minkowski (cond.); Adrian Noble (producer); Arthaus

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs (cond.); Christoph Nel (producer); Harmonia Mundi (France)

Concerto Köln; Ivor Bolton (cond.); David Alden (producer); Opus Arte

*Giulio Cesare
Emmanuelle Haïm (cond.); Laurent Pelly (producer); Virgin

Ottavio Dantone (cond.); Robert Carsen (producer); Opus Arte

Harry Bicket (cond.); Stephen Wadsworth (producer); Decca

Ivor Bolton (cond.); Christoph Loy (producer); C Major

The International Handel Recording Prize was inspired by The American Handel Society's Recording Prize. The AHS Recording Prize was awarded on an annual basis between 1991-1998.

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Last updated: August 30, 2020  · Site design: Duncan Fielden, Matthew Gardner and David Vickers