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Handel: Israel in Egypt

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Audio CD, 13 Jan 2003
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Israel in Egypt, HWV54
  2. Zadok the Priest, HWV258
  3. The King Shall Rejoice, HWV260

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a voice teacher and early music fan 1 Dec. 2007
By George Peabody - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase

It could be said that "Israel in Egypt", composed in 1739, marked a turning-point in Hamdel's composing life. This was due to the declining interest in Italian Opera in England. And so began his oratorios; "Israel in Egypt" is the fifth of nineteen oratorios, the composition of which took but twenty-seven days. It is essentially a choral oratorio, comprising no less than twenty-eight double choruses.

John Eliot Gardiner is a conductor who understands Handel to the very core, and has recorded herein the shorter version parts 2 & 3, which Handel, himself, created.

The choir does a good job of portraying the highly emotional content of this oratorio, and Gardiner guides them skillfully through the numerous vocal effects demanded by the score.

The weakest element is Ashley Stafford's (countertenor) account of the frogs which he sings VERY insecurely ending with a hideously rash decoration. Yet Gardiner manages to get across in this otherwise-vapid air the sense of leaping fleas of pestelence and pustule. The tremendous flies and lice chorus overwhelms, as the elements of earth,fire,air, and water beset humanity.

In these vast and numerous choruses a criterion by which to guage the performance is whether or not the individual parts can be heard. They can!!!!Even the orchestral parts are clear in the loudest sections. This is GREAT music-making.

The performance of 'Zadok' and 'The King..' is equally accomplished. The choir continues to sing with its customary clarity and sharp diction.

A minor complaint from me involves Gardiner's constant variety of soloists; it's unnerving to hear one excellent countertenor (Chance) sing only one of the four solos; and then hear Stafford utterly destroy his one solo, etc. It just seems that Gardiner does this too much. And , for that reason, I much prefer Cleobury's King's College 1995 recording with Bostridge-Chance-Gritton and Varcoe, each taking all of the solos for their specific voice. But this is a good recording, anyway.

Accompanying booklet includes information in German, French and English; no text.
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