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The Discerning Ear — Handel Arias and Scenes

Most Christians think of George Frideric Handel in terms of his majestic Messiah and other oratorios. But, in addition to his priceless church music, Handel also composed operas and other musical forms.

In As Steals the Morn, a new recording offers an opportunity to know this other side of Handel as singer Mark Padmore sings arias and scenes for tenor composed by Handel. Padmore is accompanied by The English Concert, conducted by Andrew Manze.

Padmore’s voice is incredibly expressive and never shrill. His tenor range is natural and not forced. As a result, the recording is a delight.

This is music for contemplation and enjoyment. The discerning ear will be reminded of the great gift Handel has bequeathed to successive generations. His music is a testimony to the order of God’s creation and the incredible power of music to evoke emotion and memory.

When, for example, Padmore sings Samson’s experience of blindness as “total eclipse,” the listener is taken back into the Old Testament story — to hear Samson declare himself “all dark amidst the blaze of noon.”

The release of As Steals the Morn comes with the 300th anniversary of Handel’s first oratorio. What music popular today will be recorded again in 300 years?