Actually, the Handel proved the less rewarding component of the Philharmonia programme. This was partly because that stylish tenor John Mark Ainsley seemed too tight-voiced for the long lines of "Where'er you walk" from Semele and "Waft her, angels" from Jeptha. But McGegan's approach to the Suite in F from the Water Music also seemed over-neat.
On the other hand, the Suite from Rameau's late opera Les Paladins was a total delight, from the quick-change scoring of its Ouverture to its bouncy final Contredanse - with McGegan pointing piquant details, drawing forth expressive phrases and vividly articulating cross-rhythms. And, in the higher tessitura of Rameau's earlier opera Dardanus, Ainsley regained his focus.
The Berliners also opened with Water Music: Telemann's ingenious Suite "Hamburg Ebb and Flow", with its Gigue in which one can hear the tide coming up the Elbe. After a deceptively somnolent tempo for the overture, the rest was dispatched with lively precision - rather more so than in the concluding account, Bach's Orchestral Suite No 4 in D, BWV1069.
In between, the soprano Maria Christina Kierhr and the countertenor Daniel Taylor sung a Handel aria apiece and two duets, of which Taylor's delivery of the aria "Cara sposa, amante cara" from Rinaldo was especially relished by an enthusiastic audience.
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