DAZZLING, DYNAMIC, DRAMATIC DANIELS!!!!!!!!!!
This recording in my opinion displays more than any other the versatility of David Daniel's perfomances. He shifts easily from character to character in these oratorios, his voice always making the necessary adjustments to do so. His tone quality is even throughout his range and his diction is always clear and precise, even at breakneck speeds as in the aria from 'Belshazzar'.
Handel's oratorio style was the product of many mingled elements. Germany, Italy and England all had a hand in its formation. But the work that Handel did in the development of the oratorio alone gives him the right to rank among the greatest of those to whom we owe the modern forms of music. David Daniels to my mind has chosen six of the greatest of Handel's oratorios.
'Belshazzar' was written to a text based on the book of Daniel, by the rich and eccentric land-owner Charles Jennens with whom he collaborated many times. 'O Sacred Oracle of Truth' is sung by the imprisoned prophet Daniel, while 'Destructive War' is sung by the haughty and magnamimous Cyrus, King of Persia, who frees the Hebrews from their slavery under the Babylonian king Belshazzar.
"Semele" is a secular story taken from Greek mythology put into verse by William Congreve. Jupiter lusts after a mortal woman snatching her from her family in the form of an eagle. The young woman, Semele,arouses the jealous anger of Juno, who takes her revenge. As a result of a plot that the goddess hatches,Semele is destroyed by fire. The 2 arias heard here are for Athamas who is betrothed to Semele. He finally gains consolation by marrying Semele's sister.
The heroine of 'Theodora' is a Christian martyr whose life is recounted by St. Ambrose in his 'De virginibus of AD377. When Theodora is punished for refusing to worship the Roman gods, Didymus(a Roman soldier who has secretly converted to Christianity) rescues her from imprisonment; is then condemned to death, Theodora joins him in martyrdom.
The oratorio 'Saul' centres on the celebrated trio of Saul,David and Jonathan. Based on the first book of Samuel, it dealt with a familiar story to most of the public at that time. 'Brave Jonathan' and 'O Lord, whose mercies Numberless' are both sung by David being pursued by a jealous Saul, but is sustained by the staunch friendship of Jonathan.
'Jeptha' is based on Chapter 11 of the book of Judges. The theme; Jeptha's promise to sacrifice to God ,in exchange for a victory over the enemy ,the first person to come out of his house to greet him after the battle; and it is his daughter Iphis. But what the Christian God really demands is that his daughter consecrate herself to Him and thus retain her virginity. And Hamor (countertenor) although very unhappy indeed sighs for her 'Up the Dreadful Steep Ascending' and 'Dull Delay'.
The libretto of the "Messiah" is based on extracts from the Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, arranged by Charles Jennens. Unlike the other oratorios,it does not tell a story. 'He Was Despised' invites the listener to meditate on the horrendous suffering imposed by mankind on Jesus before his crucifixion.
This recording is a 'must' for all Daniels' fans, as well as lovers of Handel's music.