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Handel: Athalia /Kermes · Pasichnyk · Lund · Cooley · Oro · Friedrich · Collegium Cartusianum · Neumann

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD (9 Sept. 2013)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: MDG
  • ASIN: B0006643RO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 573,846 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Allegro/2.Grave/3.Allegro
  2. Blooming Virgins
  3. The Rising World Jehovah Crown'd
  4. Tyrants Would In Impious Throngs
  5. When He Is In His Wrath Reveal'd
  6. 1. When Storms The Proud To Terrors Doom/2. Oh Judah, Boast His Matchless Law
  7. Your Sacred Songs
  8. Oh Judah, Judah! Chosen Seed!
  9. 1. Oh Lord, Whom We Adore/2. Hear From Thy Mercy
  10. What Scenes Of Horror
  11. Oh Mathan, Aid Me
  12. Athalia, Tremble At Thy Fate!
  13. The Gods, Who Chosen Blessings Shed
  14. Her Form At His Began
  15. Cheer Her, Oh Baal
  16. Amidst These Horrors
  17. Gentle Airs, Melodious Strains!
  18. Softest Sounds No More Can Ease Me
  19. Swift To The Temple
  20. The Traitor If You There Descry
  21. My Josabeth!
  22. Faithful Cares In Vain Extended
  23. O Cease, Fair Princess
  24. 1. Gloomy Tyrants/2. Hallelujah

Disc: 2

  1. The Mighty Pow'r, In Whom We Trust
  2. Through The Land So Lovely Blooming
  3. Ah! Were This Land
  4. Ah, Can'st Thou But Prove Me!
  5. Thou Dost The Ardour
  6. Confusion To My Thoughts!
  7. Will God, Whose Mercies Ever Flow
  8. Tis My Intention
  9. My Vengeance Awakes Me
  10. My Spirits Fail
  11. Dear Josabeth, I Trembled
  12. Cease Thy Anguish, Smile Once More
  13. Joad, Ere Day Has Ended Half His Race
  14. 1. The Clouded Scene Begins To Clear/2. When Crimes Aloud For Vengeance Call/3.Rejoice, Oh Judah, In
  15. What Sacred Horrors Shake My Breast
  16. Unfold, Great Seer
  17. Let Harmony
  18. 1. Jerusalem Thou Shalt No More/2. Oh Shining Mercy
  19. Eliakim! My Father!
  20. With Firm United Hearts
  21. Oh Princess, I Approach Thee
  22. Soothing Tyrant, Falsely Smiling!
  23. Apostate Priest!
  24. Around Let Acclamations Ring
  25. Oh Treason, Treason!
  26. Oppression, No Longer I Dread Thee
  27. Where I Am?
  28. Hark! Hark, Hark! His Thunders Round Me Roll
  29. Yes, Proud Apostate
  30. To Darkness Eternal
  31. Now, Josabeth
  32. Joys, In Gentle Trains Appearing
  33. Rejoice, Oh Judah
  34. Give Glory To His Awful Name

Product Description

MDG 3321276; MDG - GERMANIA;

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I have now heard all available recordings of this early Handel English oratorio and none of them are perfect. I think the problem is that 'Athalia' has such potential to be a highly dramatic piece and I always hope for more than is actually delivered. Perhaps the piece itself is partly at fault - the story IS dramatic but handled a little clumsily; the ending is rather perfunctory, the evil queen defeated just a little too easily and the heroic characters just a little too dull.

I had high hopes of this recording with the always interesting Simone Kermes in the title role. Kermes does quite well, her English is not too bad and she does manage to bring some drama to the role - her centerpiece aria 'My Vengeance Awakes Me' is fun, with the orchestra sounding appropriately belligerent as she rants and fumes. Everyone else sings beautifully but without much meaning. I have always thought that the role of Josabeth could be more dramatically sung but it is usually taken by pure, white voices and so it is here by Olga Pasichnyk. The confrontation between Athalia and Josabeth over the boy Joas could be the dramatic heart of the work but never really is! Martin Oro's voice is really lovely as the priest Joad and Wolf Friedrich does well with one of the first bass roles composed for the famous Montagnana. The choir, like the soloists, sing beautifully but with absolutely zero drama. Something like the early aria with chorus (for Josabeth) 'Tyrants' should be much more exciting than this. I really liked the conducting of Peter Neumann and the playing of his orchestra, the Collegium Cartusianum.

Personally, I think that in terms of conducting and orchestral playing alone this version is about on a par with the earlier recording by Christopher Hogwood.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8e0f17c8) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8dba5f24) out of 5 stars Strong Performance of Handel's 1st Great English Oratorio 21 May 2005
By Nicholas A. Deutsch - Published on Amazon.com
Please note: I believe the previous reviewer's comments concerning sound quality don't refer to this recording at all, but to the performance (under Joachim Carlos Martini) on Naxos 8.554364-65. This version, under Peter Neumann, has warm, well-focused acoustics, perhaps a bit more reverberant and 'churchy' than one would ideally like, but flattering to both voices & orchestra.

This is in fact the first serious challenge to Christopher Hogwood's landmark 1st recording; Naxos has its attractions, not least the low price, but overall this is in a different league. 'Athalia' is Handel's 3rd English oratorio, arguably the 1st completely successful one both as music & drama. Like 'Esther,' it's based on a play by Jean Racine which sought to emulate the ancient Greek tragedy, thus providing composers with ready-made choral interludes. (In additional to the original Moreau score, both Mendelssohn and the 20th century Swiss composer Frank Martin set Racine's verses for productions of the play.) The libretto for 'Athalia' presents a sort of Reader's Digest version of the play; Handel's audience would have filled in the back story and plot details from their knowledge of the Bible. While later Handel works such as 'Samson,''Saul,''Belshazzar,''Theodora' & 'Jeptha' delve deeper, the characters here are firmly & vividly drawn, not least the guilt-ridden 'apostate Queen' herself, whose downfall forms the central action of the piece.

Conducting, choral & orchestral work are all 1st rate, & the cast of soloists is generally strong. The standouts are soprano Simone Kermes (Athalia), who delivers a strongly dramatic reading, & bass Wolf Matthias Friedrich (Abner). Another supporting singer, tenor Thomas Cooley (Mathan) is also excellent, & the only native English-speaker. In the central soprano role of Josabeth, Olga Pasichnyk sounds consistently lovely, but doesn't always summon the requisite fire for the character's feistier moments, such as the indignant 'Soothing tyrant.' Countertenor Martin Oro is not especially distinguished as Joad (one of the few leading Handel roles actually originated by a countertenor) & Trine Wilsberg Lund, a woman in a boy soprano role (Joas) is fine, although one misses the contrasting timbre of a treble's voice, especially in the key Act II scene with all 3 sopranos. The English is accurate, if occasionally accented, & not always ideally clear. Overall, however, under Neumann's acute direction, it's an exciting & deeply felt performance.

Hogwood's strongly cast version still deserves consideration, however. He may not be as dramatically inclined a conductor, but he has all-English-speaking forces, which many may consider a plus. Another factor is that the 3 soprano roles are cast with far more contrasted voices: there's a boy soprano (Aled Jones) & 2 mightily different women, Emma Kirkby (Josabeth) & Joan Sutherland (Athalia). The latter may be audibly past her prime in spots, with occluded or unsteady tone, but she brings both great musical & dramatic authority to the part, & as was invariably the case when she worked under conductors other than her husband, her diction is far clearer than one might expect.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8dd59d08) out of 5 stars This is the recording of Athalia to own! 2 Feb. 2006
By David - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I have three recordings of this outstanding work, and this one is by far the best. Ignore the review regarding the sound quality--he must be listening on faulty speakers, for my recording is superb.
2 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8dba769c) out of 5 stars Try another recording. 27 Feb. 2005
By TechnoPerson - Published on Amazon.com
Gorgeous Handelian score, but the acoustics of this performance are just awful. Two of us listened for 10 minutes before we could understand a single word! That word was "Silence!", and it seemed appropriate to stop listening at that point.
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