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Handel: Esther

Georg Friederich Handel Audio CD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 49.99
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Product details

  • Composer: Georg Friederich Handel
  • Audio CD (25 Oct 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: L'Oiseau Lyre
  • ASIN: B00000E2YE
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 337,984 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handel, Esther 8 Feb 2011
This has long been thought of as the first English Oratorio. It is the first Oratorio by Handel to include a vast amount of music for chorus. However Esther did not start out as an Oratorio. It began life as a masque that Handel composed and then revised into a Biblical subject. This glorious recording of the complete work is the original version of Esther written by Handel. Later editions by Handel would tighten up the score so that it moved quicker, but here this version with its dramatic construction takes its time to explain itself.
But Christopher Hogwood with the Academy of Ancient music has ventured to tackle the mammoth task of recording the work how Handel originally perceived it. And as always using authentic instruments. This takes us closer to the heart of the times of the compositions origin.
Anthony rolfe Johnson and Patrizia Kwella is the Persian King and his Jewish wife. They perform beautifully And David Thomas is the savage Haman. And Ian Partridge gives a good performance as Mordecai. Emma Kirkby is a joy as an Israelite woman. She brings her beautiful voice that is full of enchantment to this part. Also on the recording is the Westminster Cathedral Boys Choir who adds texture and are expertly led by chorus master David Hill.
The piece "who calls my parting soul" with Kwella and Rolfe Johnson is a fine example of emotional expression, and the Finale of the work is a large choral scene with plenty of harmonic resource and instrumental colour. There is the lovely aria with solo oboe and strings and the lively soprano solo with harp. There are echoes of the water music with the pompous horns and chorus in parts of the composition.
It is a very long Oratorio spread over two discs. But it is an epic composition with great musical expression.
The recording is digital from 1985 and the sound and dynamics are excellent. This is a fine release and the performance, and composition is excellent.
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nice recording but wrong version 21 April 2012
Verified Purchase
I ordered this recording specifically because it purported to be a recording of the 1732 version of Esther. It is not. It is the 1720 version. I paid a lot of money for it, and it is of absolutely no use to me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good recording of one of Handel's less spectacular works 28 Jan 2012
By Kelvin Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Handel's first Oratorio. Esther has a simple story plot. Very, very simple. Jewish folk are real excited because their Queen Esther has been made queen to the Persian king, Ahasuerus. No sooner than they are married, the king's high priest proclaims that all Jews must be put to death. The first few scenes go back and forth between Jewish and Persian camps declaring destruction of the other team. Finally Esther goes to see her husband. Overcome with her beauty, he tells her that the decree wasn't meant to include her. She tells husband that destroying her people is to destroy her. Husband sees the error of his ways, and drags the high priest in for an accounting of ways. He apologizes profusely, but Esther sees through his alligator tears, he's executed, and everyone stands around singing praises to Jehovah God. The end. In Seven scenes, the whole oratorio clocks in at 1 hour and 37 minutes flat.

Though quite popular throughout Handel's career, and composed at a time when public taste was shifting from Italian to English, this is a tad dull compared to his later works. David Thomas (baritone) sings the part of the King of Persia's high priest Haman. Emma Kirkby sings the Israelite woman, Patricia Kwella sings the part of Queen Esther, and Anthony Rolfe Johnson performs the Persian King. Everyone sings to perfection, but you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip. The sound engineering, however, is excquisite. Everything is clear and images quite well.

Like an early Mozart opera compared to a Magic Flute or a Figaro, it is a real joy to listen to, but no "Israel in Egypt" or "Messiah." But soloists and orchestra are perfection. Unlike the other works, the real star of this recording is Hogwood and his delicate interpretation of the material. Every syllable of each solo and chorus is perfectly understandable, so much you barely need to reference a libretto. This is a pleasant piece of Baroque singing to add to your collection, but there is nothing here that is inspiring, particularly interesting from a story perspective, or engaging musically. Hogwood breathed as much life as could be expected. Not one of Handel's best efforts by far.

Available as part of a 4 oratorio set of Hogwood gems. Handel: Messiah / Athalia / Esther / La Resurrezione
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good news 28 Dec 2012
By Wyote - Published on Amazon.com
So, if you're looking to buy this, I've got good news: Handel: Messiah / Athalia / Esther / La Resurrezione. There you go!
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