For Once, Singing review – Renée Fleming and Ashley Mead meet Handel’s aristocrats

This well-produced recording of a music theatre production has been carefully edited to avoid repetition, so that each vocal track has been swapped out with the only accompaniment of flute and violin for alternate ensembles. Renée Fleming and Ashley Mead have been brought in to replace Katherine Jenkins and herself, and they manage to take an entertaining show that was supposed to be about singing and become an enjoyable concert.

The recordings are based on songs in a string quartet made famous by the four men in Handel’s company from 1641-1648 and written for Handel’s Rome. The catalogue of originals includes nymphs and male chorus, and their beauty and power makes for a fine listen. As the use of modern songs is discontinued, it’s not immediately obvious that For Once, Singing is the sort of show and work that go hand in hand. It’s a little bit of both, but there’s a real charm in seeing a four-piece team coming together to create something original and much lighter than Handel’s merry department.

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