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Handel: Joshua [Import]

Emma Kirkby , James Bowman , Aidan Oliver , John Mark Ainsley , Michael George , et al. Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Disc: 1
1. Joshua: Introduction
2. Joshua: Joshua - Chorus - Ye Sons Of Israel
3. Joshua: Recit (Joshua, Caleb)
4. Joshua: Joshua - Air - O First In Wisdom (Caleb)
5. Joshua: Joshua - Recit - Matrons And Virgins (Achsah)
6. Joshua: Joshua - Air - Oh! Who Can Tell (Achsah)
7. Joshua: Recit (Joshua)
8. Joshua: Chorus And Joshua
9. Joshua: Joshua - Accompagnato - So long The Memory Shall Last (Joshua)
10. Joshua: Joshua - Air - While Kedron's Brook To Jordan's Stream (Joshua)
See all 27 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Joshua: Joshua - Recit - Let All The Seed Of Abrah'm (Joshua)
2. Joshua: Joshua - Chorus - Almighty Ruler Of The Skies
3. Joshua: Joshua - Recit - Joshua, The Men Dispatch'd (Caleb)
4. Joshua: Chorus Of The Defeated Israelites
5. Joshua: Joshua - Recit - Whence this Dejection? (Joshua)
6. Joshua: Joshua - Air And Chorus - With Redoubled Rage (Joshua)
7. Joshua: Joshua - Recit - Now Give The Army Breath (Othniel)
8. Joshua: Joshua - Air - Heroes When With Glory Burning (Othniel)
9. Joshua: Joshua - Recit - Indulgent Heav'n (Achsah)
10. Joshua: Joshua - Air - As Cheers The Sun The Tender Flow'r (Achsah)
See all 29 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Handel's Old Testament oratorios can be difficult to tell apart--tenor Israelite hero, bass enemy or éminence grise, soprano ingenue, and alto priest or youth. What distinguishes Joshua? Real characters: tenor Joshua, confident to the point of conceit; grizzled old general Caleb, wistfully facing retirement; alto Othniel, an excited young warrior/lover fighting battles to win Caleb's giddy daughter, Achsah. Joshua's highlights are the showpiece arias. James Bowman sails through Othniel's impetuous "Let danger surround me"; Emma Kirkby (one of the best ornamenters in the business) charms and fascinates in Achsah's "Oh, had I Jubal's lyre" and "Hark! 'tis the linnet"; George Ainsley is a Joshua both vigorous and graceful, the chorus and the brass are stunning in "Glory to God" as they bring the walls of Jericho tumbling down. --Matthew Westphal

Product Description

Oratorio / Emma Kirkby, soprano - James Bowman, contre-ténor - John Mark Ainsley, ténor - Michael George, basse - Choir of New College, Oxford - The King's Consort, dir. Robert King

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE KING'S CONSORT DOES IT AGAIN!!!! April 16 1999
By A Customer
This wonderful recording not only provides further proof, not that it is necessary, of Handel's genius, but demonstrates what can be achieved when academia and passion integrate. This is, without question, sublime Handel and it is performed with such conviction that one wonders how it is that Joshua is not on the top of everyone's list of favorite Handel works. It is certainly one of mine, now. "O Had I Jubal's Lyre" sung with great delicacy and precision by Emma Kirkby and "See, The Conquering Hero Comes" are most probably the two most well-known pieces in "Joshua" but they are not, by any means, the only memorable one's. This oratorio abounds with beautiful music both in the form of arias and choruses. This is another wonderful addition to The King's Consort already impressive discography dedicated to the choral music of Handel. The chamber orchestra performs with great elegance yet vibrancy and the chorus responds with the same level of intensity. I recommend this recording to all who want to experience a great English oratorio in the manner in which it was meant to be heard. Thank goodness for record company's like Hyperion who recognize the importance of restoring lesser known masterpieces to their rightful place
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE KING'S CONSORT DOES IT AGAIN!!!! April 16 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This wonderful recording not only provides further proof, not that it is necessary, of Handel's genius, but demonstrates what can be achieved when academia and passion integrate. This is, without question, sublime Handel and it is performed with such conviction that one wonders how it is that Joshua is not on the top of everyone's list of favorite Handel works. It is certainly one of mine, now. "O Had I Jubal's Lyre" sung with great delicacy and precision by Emma Kirkby and "See, The Conquering Hero Comes" are most probably the two most well-known pieces in "Joshua" but they are not, by any means, the only memorable one's. This oratorio abounds with beautiful music both in the form of arias and choruses. This is another wonderful addition to The King's Consort already impressive discography dedicated to the choral music of Handel. The chamber orchestra performs with great elegance yet vibrancy and the chorus responds with the same level of intensity. I recommend this recording to all who want to experience a great English oratorio in the manner in which it was meant to be heard. Thank goodness for record company's like Hyperion who recognize the importance of restoring lesser known masterpieces to their rightful place
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CONQUERING HERO Aug. 31 2004
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on Amazon.com
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Handel hits this one with everything, or nearly everything. I'm not sure that I have ever been more conscious of the sheer audacity of his style than I am here in Joshua. There are some big effects, of a familiar type, as in the chorus `Glory to God' that accompanies the fall of the walls of Jericho or in the `Solemn March during the circumvection of the Ark of the Covenant' that precedes it, or in the terrific final chorus. There is some extraordinary orchestration, notably the birdsong impressions in Achsah's aria `Hark, `tis the linnet' or the extraordinary impact of the long sustained notes on violins and trumpet when the sun is bidden to stand still in ` Behold! The list'ning sun'. There is the populist Handel of `See the conquering hero comes', which seems to have done much for him what `La donna e mobile' was later to do for Verdi. At the musical, or musical/rhetorical, level there is an abundance of the subtler stylistic features that set him apart from anyone else of his time - the characteristic stops and starts, changes of pace, rhetorical gaps in the vocal line, modulations that almost anticipate Schubert and that unparalleled instinct he had for how, why and when words should be repeated for maximum effect, continuity and eloquence. There is a certain amount of unaccompanied singing both for soloists and chorus, and if I have one problem with any of it, the problem is with Handel's sense for choral tone, which leaves me unable to listen to anyone else's choral writing for some time afterwards.

The libretto deserves a certain amount of the credit. The Rev Thomas Morell was no great poet, and his verbal expression is more trite than usual here, no doubt because of the pressure he was under to keep pace with the enormous speed Handel was working at in the grip of inspiration. Summarised on paper, the plot of Joshua does not look particularly promising. In musical terms after all one military victory is much like another. It comes across rather like a soccer commentary - the walls of Jericho are brought down, so one-nil to the children of Israel: these become complacent and are repulsed at Ai, so the score is now level: they are rallied by their management and notch up the match-winner at Debir, leading to a hero's welcome not for Joshua but actually for Othniel, in case anyone was noticing by now. However what Morell did possess was a sound instinct for a musical drama. The roller-coaster fortunes of the Israelites were a welcome opportunity to Handel, and the romantic thread of Achsah and Othniel was another. Morell even provides `Hark `tis the linnet' on a blatant pretext, as Robert King says, but Handel was not the man to turn down the chance, and we are all the gainers. It is a story full of contrast and of light and shade, and by either good luck or inspired editing the un-triumphant aria `To Vanity', in which Achsah warns the victorious Israelites against over-confidence, comes just before the change to the second disc.

Even by the very high standards one has come to expect from today's early-music groups, this issue strikes me as absolutely outstanding. It has a solo cast of the tried and the tested, (other than the treble Aidan Oliver in the small part of the Angel), there is an instrumental ensemble of nearly 40, and a chorus of 30 with boy trebles and male altos. Right from the magnificent first chorus one has a sense of absolute confidence and command, and so it stays all the way through to the end. The soloists are consistently fine, and if I single out John Mark Ainsley as Joshua and Emma Kirkby as Achsah for special mention that may be largely because they have the biggest roles, and of course the solitary female role. Kirkby in particular is in sublime voice, but my head is still ringing with the sound of each of them negotiating Handel's coloratura sequences with consummate ease and professionalism. Absolutely everything seems to be right here, and from everyone. The range of expression they have to encompass is particularly wide in Joshua, but they seem to have been born to sing it, and the instrumental work, directed by Robert King, is beyond praise too for tact and sense of style, as well, needless to say, as technical accomplishment. There are three trumpet-players, so I am unable to name the special hero of `Behold! The list'ning sun'.

Robert King himself contributes the commentary, which I read before listening to the music. It is very detailed and enthusiastic and at first I even thought it just a trifle breathless and excitable. As my own level of excitement rose during the performance, I was getting on to the same wavelength myself, and as one superb solo or chorus followed on another I found myself checking back with King to see what he had to say about the piece in question. I suppose I must have read a fair amount about all of the main performers at one time or another, but I would still have welcomed at least a brief note on each of them. What we are offered instead is their photographs, and I must admit that they are a very good-looking and photogenic bunch. The recorded sound is absolutely admirable too.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a voice teacher and early music fan May 6 2007
By George Peabody - Published on Amazon.com
AND THE 'WALLS CAME TUMBLING DOWN'- BUT NOT MUSICALLY SPEAKING!

'Joshua'was one of a quartet of oratorios written consecutively between 1746 & 1748 which has heavily militaristic overtones. Through the years it has been rather neglected in the line-up of Handel Oratorios and unfortunately so, because the quality and excitement that is Handel is contained within it just as in other works.

It contains two unforgettble scenes: the fall of the walls of Jericho and the halting of sun and moon. Here also is the famous march 'See the conquering hero comes' which the Victorians used 'ad nauseam' to open new public works. It occurs in almost exactly the same position in ActIII as the purely orchestral 'Dead Marches' in 'Saul' and 'Samson'.

Handel uses a full complement of instruments, particularly brass and percussion that provide the bombastic and triumphant sound effects for the exciting action of the story. The King's Consort are more than capable of providing these trememdous sounds, and they do!

This is a very fine recording of Handel's 'Joshua'. The New College Choir under the direction of Edward Higginbottom is superb, and is featured frequently throughout the work, as is usual for Handel choruses.

The soloists sing expressively and skillfully protraying for us the exciting story of Joshua. Emma Kirkby's solo 'Oh Had I Jubal's Lyre' is just so excellent as she sings out those exquisite high notes with her clear and pure soprano and executes superfast passages as if they were so easy, and they are not! John Mark Ainsley, in the role of Joshua, is marvelous; his tone quality has such warmth and life!!. And I have always enjoyed the rich Bass voice of Michael George; I marvel at how clear is his diction, for sometimes basses on that very low pitch level 'rumble' and become somwhat indistinct! Now James Bowman, countertenor, playing the part of the young, heroic warrior who ultimately saves the day, sings very expressively with much sound. However, his diction is somewhat difficult to comprehend because of the heavy tunnel-like quality of his voice. Having said this, he is considered by many (not me) to be one of the 'greats' of that genre, so don't take that as a negative comment.

And there is an accompanying booklet with all the words in English, French and German. The boy soprano, who unfortunately has only a brief part (as an angel) is excellent, but he also sings with the New College Choir on the Choruses.

I like this rendition very much; it's a superior group of singers headed by two capable leaders: Robert King and Edward Higginbottom.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Glory Burning! Fine Handel oratorio wonderfully performed Jan. 28 2007
By Ingrid Heyn - Published on Amazon.com
This terrific and exciting oratorio may not have the popularity of The Messiah, but it fully deserves to be at the forefront of everyone's oratorio collection. The chorus work is amazing, the solos are exciting and beautiful, the music is entirely riveting.

The performance recorded here and conducted by Robert King is utterly splendid. John Mark Ainsley is without a doubt one of the finest Handelian tenors in the world, and he sings with beauty and inspiration. Emma Kirkby is simply ravishing - there's no other word for it. She's never sung any better (although she's such an amazingly consistent singer that MUCH of what she's sung would draw the same comment) and this suits her perfectly. Michael George is as ever a thoroughly wonderful bass singing beautifully. James Bowman... what can one say of James Bowman that has not already been said? He is extraordinary - he sings with such an exquisite line and such meticulous and emotion-filled control that one understands exactly why he is considered one of the great countertenors.

Highly recommended - there may be other good recordings of "Joshua", but certainly not a better. It remains my favourite of all the "Joshua" recordings.
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