The Russian composer Elena Langer, now resident in Britain, draws on influences from her native country (Shostakovich, especially in the chamber orchestration of these songs), from Britain (from Britten to Thomas Adès), and from continental Europe. As a song composer she is able to convey lightness even when dealing with serious material such as the title song cycle setting poems by Lee Harwood (most of the songs on the album are in English). These songs subtly depict love triangles, some of them with both straight and gay elements. Even better are the genuinely playful pieces.
Atalanta (HWV 35) is a pastoral opera in three acts by George Frideric Handel composed in 1736. It is based upon the mythological female athlete, Atalanta, the libretto (which is in Italian) being derived from the book La Caccia in Etolia by Belisario Valeriani. The identity of the librettist is not known. Handel composed it for the London celebrations of the marriage in 1736 of Frederick, Prince of Wales, eldest son of King George II, to Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. The first performance took place on 12 May 1736 in the Covent Garden Theatre. It closed with a spectacular display of fireworks, which was highly popular with the royal family and the London audience, and the opera and fireworks display were revived a number of times in the year of its first performance.