The voice and artistry of Iestyn Davies has always been one of the treats I look forward to when another recording by the King’s Consort comes my way. Here, in a well-deserved accolade we have a disc where we can savour his music making at length – and it does not disappoint. Apart from being a conspectus of Handel’s astonishing dramatic range and technical prowess in the realm of the oratorio, it is also a treasure trove of delights for the alto voice.
Whether in the sober piety of O sacred oracles of truth from Belshazzar or the more bellicose Mighty love now calls to arm from Alexander Balus, Davies is totally in command of his material, spinning out beautifully formed musical phrases and displaying his deep love of the English language at every turn. This very well chosen program shows his honeyed tones in a variety of contrasted contexts. Amongst some of the highlights are the uplifting How can I stay when love invites from Esther, and the tender Mortals think that Time is sleeping from The Triumph of Time and Truth. A few well-chosen duets with Carolyn Sampson add to the pleasure.
As much as this disc is a celebration of Davies’ art, it is also a celebration of his good fortune to make marvellous music with such talented colleagues as trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins, violinist Kati Debretzeni and soprano Carolyn Sampson, not to mention King and his extraordinary consort. All of these contribute to a program that is satisfying in every way. Still in his thirties, Davies (and an admiring public) can hopefully look forward to many more years of high calibre music making. In the meantime, don’t miss this well conceived and executed disc.