Judas Maccabaeus (HWV 63) is an oratorio in three acts composed in 1746 by George Frideric Handel based on a libretto written by Thomas Morell. The oratorio was devised as a compliment to the victorious Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland upon his return from the Battle of Culloden (16 April 1746).
IIn his setting of Orlando, Handel offers us a score of remarkable dramatic power, diversity and originality. Orlando s mad scene and slumber aria are among the composer s most striking creations. Everything in the opera arouses admiration the extremely varied scoring, the exuberant vocal writing, the rhythmic invention and the supple melodies. On this new recording from K617, Jean-Claude Malgoire and La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy are joined by a cast of talented soloists in a fantastic production rivaling the best in the catalog.
Paul McCreesh is one of the better-known figures in London's active early music scene, particularly as a conductor of small ensemble music of the Baroque. He grew up playing the cello. While at Manchester University, he formed a student chamber choir and ensemble of period instruments. In 1982 he organized it formally as the Gabrieli Consort and Players. .
The first collaboration ever between conductor William Christie and director Luc Bondy with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, this production of Hercules has been a major event. Hercules returns from the war with Iole, a princess he fell in love with. Mad with jealousy, Déjanire, his wife, ends up totally insane after poisoning her husband. Half theatrical performance, half secular oratorio, Hercules wasn’t originally meant to be performed in front of an audience. Luc Bondy chose to show the dramatis personae as ordinary people, victims of their passions. The superb Chorus of the Arts Florissants, both mediator and prosecutor, is the main witness of this tragedy of women’s jealousy.
Annika Treutler grew up in Detmold and is now based in Berlin. She studied with Prof. Matthias Kirschnereit at the Rostock College of Music and Drama and Prof. Bernd Goetzke at the Hanover College of Music, Drama and Media. The young artist won third prize at the Montreal International Piano Competition in 2014 and reached the semifinals of the ARD International Music Competition in Munich that year. Annika Treutler has appeared as a guest soloist with such orchestras as the Konzerthaus Orchestra of Berlin, the Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra, the German Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. On this release, she presents beautiful solo piano works by Johannes Brahms.
According to Christopher Hogwood, in his marvelous biography of Handel, "In the winter of that year , Handel received what was for him an unusual commission. Although closely associated with the London theatre, he wrote very little incidental music for plays. A request from John Rich to provide airs and dances for Smollett's 'Alceste' was undertaken, according to Hawkins, in repayment of a debt to Rich."
Following several acclaimed albums of Handel’s operatic and choral masterpieces (including a triumphant Giulio Cesare with Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra and the oratorio La Resurrezione with British soprano Kate Royal), French harpsichordist and conductor Emmanuelle Haïm at last brings her fresh, expressive approach to Messiah. Joining her on a musically and spiritually uplifting journey for this long-awaited recording is Haïm’s own choir and period-instrument orchestra, Le Concert d’Astrée, with four of the UK’s finest Handelian singers. Having begun her career as a brilliant harpsichordist and protegee of Baroque pioneers William Christie and Christophe Rousset, Haïm has a long history with Messiah.
All of Trevor Pinnocks unmissable Handel orchestral recordings with the English Concert on period instruments, collected for the first time in a single release: Classic recordings of Op. 3 and Op. 6; A must-have for anyone remotely interested in Handel.
The Belgian early music group Vox Luminis has made several wonderful recordings of lesser-known Baroque repertory. They cultivate a distinctive sound with ten or 15 singers (here there are ten) and a small instrumental group, diverging completely from the general Italianate-operatic trend toward brisk tempos, sharp accents, and dramatic conceptions. Here they take on two very familiar works and meet the challenge of creating unique interpretations. Even in the splendid Bach Magnificat in D major, BWV 243 (sample one of the big choruses, perhaps "Fecit potentiam"), they are smooth and even delicate. The sound is all the more impressive in that leader Lionel Meunier does not really conduct; he sings in the choir itself. Yet the carefully burnished sound is extremely coherent. The effect is to deliver a personal aspect even to these highly public works. In this kind of reading there is the necessity for the performers to deliver text intelligibility and for the instrumentalists to deliver balance, and all succeed nicely, as do Alpha Classics' engineers, working in a pair of churches (Belgian for the Handel, Dutch for the Bach). This is a beautifully rendered representation of standard repertory that draws you into entirely new ways of looking at the music.
Giulio Cesare, the most popular of Handel’s operas, is named after the great Roman emperor, but its most memorable character is Cleopatra. In this production by Laurent Pelly from Paris’ splendid Palais Garnier, the role of the Egyptian queen is assumed for the first time by Natalie Dessay, described by the Telegraph as “a supreme vocal enchantress”.