Handel, Choir Of New College, Oxford, The King's Consort - Judas Maccabeus

Monday 1st February 1993
Handel, Choir Of New College, Oxford, The King's Consort - Judas Maccabeus

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Hyperion 66641/2

This product is currently not available from Cross Rhythms Direct

Reviewed by Dave Massey

Judas Maccabeus was Handel's first successful oratorio after a big season of disappointments with the punters in 1745-1746 who had become bored with the novelty of a musical form that Handel had done much to promote. In the period, Bonnie Prince Charlie (who will never be forgiven for inspiring Roger Whittaker and Des O'Connor) had staged an unsuccessful rebellion. Always the opportunist, Handel saw the need for a victory celebration and the Oratorio that he had been writing on and off for a while fitted the bill nicely. Based on the Jewish hero who rebelled against the Romans and lived to tell the tale, as related in the Apocrypha, it is an unashamed piece of propaganda. In this recording, all the excitement and solemnity of the piece from the opening overture to the Amen are captured in an authentic and polished performance. Perhaps the most famous chorus "See The Conquering Hero" (lifted from the Joshua Oratorio) and later adopted as the tune for "Thine Be The Glory") is a resplendent and heart-warming victory march - if you have never heard it in its original setting you are missing a great treat. The greatest delight for me on this disc are the trumpet fanfares, skilfully executed and including an unusual obligato part in A minor on "With Honour Let The Desert Be Crowned". Musically, the whole thing was a triumph for Handel, a victory Oratorio that had his coffers overflowing after a dry period. Victorious music sung here with a sense of that occasion and oozing style!

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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