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Cat. No. CHAN 0759 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 0759 - Eccles: The Judgment of Paris/ Three Mad Songs
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Available From: 01 April 2009
Eccles: The Judgment of Paris/ Three Mad Songs

Christian Curnyn, whose reputation continues to grow in the world of baroque opera, here conducts the world premiere recording of Judgement of Paris  performed by the award-winning Early Opera Company, along with a stellar cast of soloists.

One of the earliest all-sung English operas, this one-act opera by John Eccles was composed in 1700 for a competition advertised in the London Gazette. Created by the ’Persons of Quality’, a group of nobleman headed by Lord Halifax, the purpose of the competition was an ambitious and worthy one, namely the development of all-sung opera in English.

The text came from William Congreve, widely accepted as one of England’s leading playwrights. Four composers took up the  challenge and to the suprise of many, Eccles, the pre-competion favourite did not win, being beaten by John Weldon. However, of all the settings, Eccle’s best captures the atmosphere of the London stage of the time and as a composer has since come to be recognised as one of Purcells’s most gifted London contemporaries.


"This new release from Curnyn is the first complete recording of Eccles opera and has been cast with fine soloists. The first of these is Roderick Williams(Mercury) who, after the stylishly played symphony, opens  with his commanding baritone and explains the task that is to be set before Paris. Benjamin Hulett (Paris) is delightful as the young naive shepherd... His light tone is backed up with a wonderful presence that really draws the listener in. Susab Bickley is arrestingly brilliant in the role (Juno) and her aria’let Ambition fire thy mind’ is one of the most exciting due to a combination of her singing and the tight orchestral playing. Claire Booth’s ’Hark hark’ aria with four trumpets all sounding together for the first time is dazzling and vital. Lucy Crowe, accompanied by her soft flute, is feminine and beguiling - no wonder she wins the Golden Apple.
Particular mention should be made of the quality of the recording itself. Curnyn’s orchestra is sprightly and all of their meticulous detail is captured without any suspicion of over-mixing or excessive editing. The result is a very stylish performance that deserves wide recognition."
- Ed Breen


"The Early Opera Company turns in polished, vibrant performances. Good notes, full texts excellent sound."

American Record Guide September/October 2009

"In this first recording of The Judgement of Paris, The Early Opera Company triumphantly reclaim Eccle’s rightful place as one of England’s finest theatrical composers. Although Eccles was clearly indebted to Purcell, his dramatic flair was unrivalled. The suppleness of his melodies, vitality of his rhythms, and imaginativeness of his scoring possess an immediate appeal. Christian Curnyn elegantly captures the unique charms of Eccle’s music."

BBC Music Magazine

"Susan Bickley’s rich and well-modulated mezzo brings us a Juno who’s a goddess of marriage you’d think twice about crossing…as Venus Lucy Crowe finds the right note of subtle seductiveness to suit Eccle’s sophisticated vocal writing.. .Benjamin Hulett, whose pure, focussed high tenor is like liquid honey – sweet and legato – and duly ecstatic in Paris’s opening arioso… What an appetite whetter this recording is – ‘O ravishing delight ‘ indeed."

International Record Review

"Christian Curnyn offer unaffected, faithful reading of the printed score. If anything, it is understated, the instrumental forces reduced (the premiere employed 85 musicians in addition to the ‘verse singers’) and the recording acoustic intimate. Lucy Crowe’s Venus may win the prize, but all of the soloists contribute beautifully judged portrayals."


"The performances from the Early Opera Company are excellent..."

Classic FM Magazine

"The darker Three Mad Songs, meanwhile, come from a 1704 anthology of Eccles’s theatre music; they are hauntingly done, one each by Crowe, Booth and Bickley."

The Guardian


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