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Handel: Israel in Egypt Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, 14 Jul 2003
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Product details

  • Audio CD (14 July 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Regis
  • ASIN: B00005B7PE
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 357,095 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product description

REG 2012; REGIS - Inghilterra; Classica Orchestrale per Oboe

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The late Sir Charles Mackerras, a great Handelian, puts polish and dynamism into this interpretation - my absolute favourite Israel in Egypt (followed rather closely by a forgotten Vox recording from 1959 under Paul Boepple where soloists try their limited best but are completely outshone
by an obvious enjoyment in rumbustuous music making by chorus and orchestra).
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Format: Audio CD
The 'original' movement took a smaller aproach of the barroque composers as Haendel, Bach and others, but this larger version of Haendel Israel in Egypt by Macherras is simply superb.

Even with larger chorus it makes a nice effect, especially on the more dramatic passages, for example 'He gave them hailstones' and 'The people shall hear'.

It's quite amazing that Haendel, even taking the inspiring melodies from third party composers, has done such an impressive dramatic oratorio, with many eco-like double chorus tracks.

The men-base inspiring composers/compositions are Dionigi Erba/Magnificat and Alessandro Stradella/Cantata 'Qual prodigio è ch'io miri?', that you can listen and compare on:

Stradella Cantata Natale Serenata prodigio on a not so good recording.

The chorus, soloists and orchestra are first rate and the record spacious and powerfull.

Even before the 'original movement' Macherras uses on the role a counter-tenor, starting before the 'icons' of our time.

The Exodus history of the jews is 'per-se' dramatic and moving, having God and the narrator on the lead.

A great listening time if you enjoy the biblical theme / composer.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.3 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious big-band Handel 18 May 2014
By W. Chiles - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have sought this recording for years in vain, even looking among the used vinyl bins for it. So delighted to have found a copy on CD via amazon. This recording, dating from the 1970 Leeds Festival, is the only one I'm aware of that uses a large chorus and a modern instruments ensemble to provide proper balance against the singers. While the period versions led by Gardiner and Parrot may be quite fleet & nimble, they are also lacking in the grandeur achieved in this performance with far larger resources. Cleobury's all male recording using trebles in the female parts is the least interesting of the period recordings. Preston's is made with modern instruments and a small chorus that sings with a rather full bodied sound. It pales in comparison to MacKerras' and lacks the style of the period recordings.

I've had the good fortune to sing tenor in this piece twice. It's comprised mostly of choruses with far fewer numbers for the soloists than Handel's other oratorios. There are several portions scored for double chorus and a great number incorporating tone painting in the orchestra or chorus such as the buzzing violins around the "there came all manner of flies" and the hammer blows of "He smote all the first born of Israel". The great chorus "The Horse and his Rider" ranks with "Hallelujah" as one of Handel's most exciting. He even reprises it for maximum dramatic effect! Small wonder that it's beloved by choral conductors. The Leeds festival chorus sings with excellent blend, diction and intonation while managing to provide ample clarity in the contrapuntal passages. MacKerras leads his typical taut and brisk performance that sounds historically informed but with the added warmth of vibrato in the strings.

There are multiple performing editions available on CD. Handel originally incorporated a Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline into his first 1739 performance as a prelude. The concert was not a popular success. In later revivals in 1757 & 1758 he included and abridged version of Act I of "Solomon" in an attempt to curry favor with his audience. While the period recordings include the funeral anthem "The Ways of Zion do Mourn", it is not nearly as inspired a composition as parts I "Exodus" and II "Moses' Song" of "Israel in Egypt" heard in this recording by Mackerras. He opens the piece instead with the overture to "Solomon". Today's audiences will find that satisfying and of sufficient length.

Handel himself loved to perform his pieces with the largest possible ensembles providing ample precedent for this big-band festival performance. The soloists are quite good, particularly sopranos Heather Harper and Patricia Clark. The basses (who have only one number, a duet) are paired for maximum contrast, one having a rather unattractive and wooly sound but that is of little importance in the context of this largely choral work. I heartily recommend it if you can find a copy. It's currently out of print. The ADD remastering, dating from the mid to late 1980s, is quite adequate. The choir sounds a bit recessed in the balance but there is sufficient clarity and body. They sing with well controlled and limited vibrato providing ample detail in the contrapuntal double chorus numbers. The english chamber orchestra plays beautifully throughout and with vibrato which I find far more pleasant and attractive than the current "historically informed" practice currently in vogue. If you want to experience this magnificent work in all its glory, get this recording!
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars -- a new contender for the best "Israel in Egypt" 18 Aug. 2007
By Larry VanDeSande - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Until I sang this oratorio a decade ago I'd never have known it was the most antiphonal choral piece there is, with dueling choruses and violins, among others, speaking and answering each other throughout the three part re-telling of the Passover story.

For those of you not up on your Biblical history, Passover is Moses leading the Jews out of ancient Egypt and, among other places, through the Red Sea that God conveniently split it two for their safe passage. The story is full of colorful musical depictions -- God slays the first sons of Egypt, there are plagues of both frogs and locusts, a darkness falls over the land, and the horse and his rider God throws into the sea. This is, briefly stated, one of the mightiest of all oratorios.

This new recording from the ultra low priced Brilliant label -- which has been bringing us 150-CD sets of all the music of Bach, Beethoven, Shostakovich and others in recent years and re-releasing other hallowed recordings licensed to other labels -- is an international production that is correct historically in that it uses all three parts of the oratorio. For many years, the typical production used only the second and third parts beginning with "Exodus" section at the tenor aria, "Now there arose a new king over Egypt". This version includes the first section called "The Lamentation of the Isrealite for the Death of Josef" that adds an overture (called Symphony), 8 addtional choruses, a section for solo and chorus, and 2 extra solos.

This is a magnificent production in just about every respect. It appropriately uses soloists in all three parts instead of having the choir sing all the sections. The work of the six soloists -- Swiss soprano Susanne Cornelius, French also Antonia Bovre', English countertenor Tim Mead, German tenor Bernard Berchtold, German baritone Klemens Sander and Icelandic bass Mika Kares -- is always good, always stylish, and, even if they sometimes struggle a tad with English, always understandable. They won't make you forget the work of bigger name stars that inhabit Andrew Parrott's recording on Virgin Classics, but they are all professionals better than any soloists with whom I've performed.

Conductor Anthony Bramall, an Englishman, does fine work holding everything together. His is a young man's vision of "Isreal in Egypt" with tempo relationships that are often faster than Parrott. These can border on extreme, as in "And with the blast of thy nostrils" but they never cross the line into mayhem. Bramall always seems grounded in the tradtion of Handel performance and his forces adhere to modern period style (plain tone with limited or no vibrato by singers) and string playing the eschews slides and vibrato. The notes do not indicate whether or the Orchestra of German Handel Soloist uses period instruments. But, clearly, this performance is a modern pastiche with continuo accompaniment.

Best of all, this performance is a one-off from a concert performance given in Germany in February 2006. I was astonished when I first listened and heard the crowd burst into applause at the end. I was fooled into thinking this was a studio performance until that time. The sound is also magnificent -- clear, warm, broad and without undue reverberation that allows you to hear all the words all the time. An occasional patch between sections can be noted when you listen closely using headphones that neither dampens nor diminishes your enjoyment.

While Andrew Parrott's version of this masterpiece, abetted by international stars in the solo roles, still holds a place in my heart, this new recording must be considered a contender for the top spot among all versions of this oratorio. Considering it comes handsomely packaged in a sturdy tri-fold box with a 16-page booklet that explains all the text in English and German and arrives at Brilliant's unbelievably low price of less than $10, this must be the top recommendation for anyone coming to this music for the first time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 19 Mar. 2016
By NYC Jan - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Great recording!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best 13 Dec. 2010
By Robert Odell - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am a fan of this work. Many poor performances. This is an exciting work full of energy and optimism. Not a polite work. The greatest in my mind is only on vinyl by Paul Boepple on Vox.
This performnce is exciting, full and feeling of energy. The forces are superb and the price is right.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 16 July 2011
By Luis A. Q. Araujo - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I wished I could give it more than 5 stars.
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