Handel's oratorios vary greatly in their presentation. In many ways, Esther is a rarity;it is by far the most intimate, not surprisingly as it was composed for the Duke of Chandos. The Duke's Palladian palace near the village ofEdgware had not been completed in time for the first performance so this may have taken place (as did Acis and Galatea) in the intimate surroundings of a small church, St Lawrence, Whitchurch.
We decided, therefore, that we should attempt to convey that intimacy of performance on disc; so we performed in the round with microphones in the middle, the orchestra in front of me, the choir behind and the soloists alongside. The result is everything that chamber music should be where players and singers can enjoy every aspect of Handel's masterpiece.
"The 'sound' of Esther, superbly communicated in the recorded performance here, is pure enchantment... The choral singing has an exceptional grandure, and the instrumental playing a shimmering beauty. Among the soloists, none of whom is less than accomplished, Nancy Argenta and Michael Chance dominate... Both singers affirm a new golden age of Handel interpretation".