AND BOWMAN SINGS ON AND ON AND ON!!!
Of George Frederick Handel(1685-1759) of England, born Georg Friedrich Handel of Germany, an English critic wrote, "He did bestride our musical world like a Colossus." The English passion for the oratorio is largely due to Handel, who was forced to find a new style of music with which to rekindle the interest of the public. For twenty years he had been presenting operas in London, but the last seasons had been increasingly unsuccessful as audiences took against attending staged works in Italian. The prior success of 'Esther' had launched 'oratorio' in London, and set Handel on a compositional path which was to prove his principal sphere of work for the rest of his life.
Handel's oratorios, more dramatic than any previously written, were like operas, save that they were given without scenery and costumes. Moreover, the variety of moods, the quality of the melodies and the composer's unique use of the colours of the orchestra makes the whole work marvellously attractive.
This disc contains an excellent variety of tunes from the various oratorios. Most are vocal in nature, but there are 2 that are strictly instrumental: Overture to 'Esther' in 3 movements and 'Martial Symphony and Destructive Was' from 'Solomon'.
I particularly enjoyed the 2 duets with Susan Gritton (soprano) and James Bowman (countertenor): 'O fairest of 10,000 Fair' from 'Saul' and 'Welcome as the dawn of day' from 'Solomon'.James Bowman does his usual correct interpretation of all the selections. His diction is not always clear due to his somewhat 'loud' and 'muffled' tone quality. BUT having said this, I must say that he is considered by most to be one of the great singers from the UK. I just simply prefer a more refined and clear 'delivery' such as Michael Chance renders. But we all have our own preferences and that's good for the world of music appreciation. Susan Gritton's voice is clear and her diction is excellent; and Robert King with the King's Consort give their usual fine accompaniment.
Just an aside for those of you who enjoy the oratorio; there are 4 excellent 'live' performances on CD from the Maulbronn Monastery conducted by Jurgen Budday with superb singing, both soloistically and chorally. They are recorded by K&K Verlagsanstalt and are available on amazon.com