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Handel: Great Choruses / Hill, Sampson, Blaze, English Concert


Release Date: 04/28/2009 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1736   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn SampsonRobin Blaze
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Choral discs presenting detached choruses from a number of large-scale works by a particular composer are not too common. I recall a Teldec disc with Handel choruses conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt some fifteen, maybe more, years ago but that was compiled from the vast output of Handel’s oratorios and the odd opera that Harnoncourt had recorded through the years and it involved several different choirs. This new BIS disc was recorded a year ago specifically to be issued during Handel Year (2009). With the illustrious Bach Choir and The English Concert expectations were high. They were fulfilled.

The acoustics of St. John’s, Smith Square, which I know well after so many BBC Lunchtime Concerts there during the 1980s and 1990s,
Read more are well suited to choral music and the recording is as natural as most BIS issues tend to be. Recorded in Surround Sound 5.0 (with no separate bass channel added) the sound-picture is warm but also detailed.

The two soloists may seem slightly backwardly balanced but this probably has to do with their relatively small voices and that this was the real balance at St John’s. Carolyn Sampson’s light, effortlessly produced soprano carries well anyway and she sings the famous Let the bright Seraphim with accomplishment. The brilliant trumpet soloist should also have been named in the booklet. Robin Blaze sounds a little pale when coming in after the spectacular full orchestral forces and eight-part choir in the Athalia chorus.

I need not go into details on every chorus but The people shall hear, with its staccato accompaniment and threatening outpouring from the choir makes for an imposing opening. Zadok the Priest has vitality and rhythmic spring and Jealousy, infernal pest from Hercules is eerie, sounding very ‘modern’. See the conquering hero comes was originally written for Joshua but later inserted into a revival of Judas Maccabaeus. It is also good to have the lament He saw the lovely youth from Theodora since this was Handel’s own favourite among his own music. It may not be as immediately catchy as the Hallelujah from Messiah, but it is certainly a great piece of music.

David Hill carries on the tradition from his predecessors as conductor of the Bach Choir excellently and the English Concert play with ardour. Anyone wanting a cross-section of some of Handel’s best choral music need look no further.

-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Israel in Egypt, HWV 54: The people shall hear and be afraid by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1739; London, England 
2.
Alexander's Feast, HWV 75: The many rend the skies by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1736; London, England 
3.
L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, HWV 55: Or let the merry bells ring round by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1740; London, England 
4.
Coronation Anthems (4): no 1, HWV 258 "Zadok the priest" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; London, England 
5.
Samson, HWV 57: Let the bright Seraphim by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1743; London, England 
6.
Hercules, HWV 60: Jealousy, infernal pest by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1745; London, England 
7.
Joshua, HWV 64: See the conqu'ring hero comes by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; London, England 
8.
Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63: Fallen is the foe by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747; London, England 
9.
Solomon, HWV 67: May no rash intruder by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1749; London, England 
10.
Theodora, HWV 68: He saw the lovely youth by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749-1750; London, England 
11.
Messiah, HWV 56: Hallelujah! by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1742; London, England 

Sound Samples

Hercules, HWV 60: Act II: Jealousy! Infernal pest
Joshua, HWV 64: See the conquering hero comes
Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63: Part II: Fall'n is the Foe
Solomon, HWV 67: Part I: May no rash intruder
Theodora, HWV 68, Act I: Angels, ever bright and fair: Theodora, HWV 68, Act II: He saw the lovely youth
Messiah, HWV 56: Part II: Hallelujah!

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