Discussion:
Handel's Greatest Oratorio? Not Messiah.
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Ralph
2008-12-21 22:19:13 UTC
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Folks,

Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works
then the Messiah. What do you think?

Ralph
v***@hotmail.com
2008-12-21 23:06:04 UTC
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Post by Ralph
Folks,
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works
then the Messiah. What do you think?
Ralph
I do like Handel's Messiah very much; but there are some other
oratorios which are quite as beautiful in my view: Solomon, Jephtha,
parts of L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (that last duet..),
and possibly Theodora.
Johannes Roehl
2008-12-21 23:20:48 UTC
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Post by Ralph
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works
then the Messiah. What do you think?
I think they are both very different, or rather, Messiah is different.
It is the most "sacred" of his oratorios, not opera-like as Saul,
Theodora or Belshazzar. Saul may be the most dramatic one of all. But
all of them contain great music, although many are somewhat uneven.
Israel in Egypt falls into that category, IMO. Sure, there are some of
the most powerful and impressive choruses ever, but the whole thing
doesn't hang together terribly well.
For me Messiah is especially impressive, because of it achieves great
expression in spite of the comparably modest scale: (almost) no double
choruses, austere scoring (compared with Saul!). And because the
powerful language from the bible (and Jennens, vain and pompous jerk he
might have been, did a very good job with the libretto) seems almost
timeless compared to the other libretti.

Johannes
Bob Harper
2008-12-21 23:39:02 UTC
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Johannes Roehl wrote:
(snip)
Post by Johannes Roehl
For me Messiah is especially impressive, because of it achieves great
expression in spite of the comparably modest scale: (almost) no double
choruses, austere scoring (compared with Saul!). And because the
powerful language from the bible (and Jennens, vain and pompous jerk he
might have been, did a very good job with the libretto) seems almost
timeless compared to the other libretti.
Johannes
You have spoken for me better than I could have. Thanks.

Bob Harper
Kip Williams
2008-12-22 00:22:46 UTC
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Post by Johannes Roehl
And because the
powerful language from the bible (and Jennens, vain and pompous jerk he
might have been, did a very good job with the libretto)
I understand that the real work was likely carried out by Mr. Poole,
secretary to Jennens.


Kip W
EM
2008-12-24 02:24:32 UTC
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Post by Johannes Roehl
For me Messiah is especially impressive, because of it achieves great
Just saw in alt.binaries.operaworld:

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685-1759)
Messiah (1741)

December 18, 2008 (Live)
Avery Fisher Hall
New York Philharmonic

Ton Koopmann, conductor (NYPhil debut)

Sunhae Im, Soprano (NYPhil debut)
Andreas Scholl, countertenor (NYPhil debut)
Jorg Durmuller, tenor (New York Phil debut)
Detlef Rothe, baritone (New York Phil debut)

Westminster Symphonic Choir, Joe Miller, director

About the concert:

http://nyphil.org/meet/archive/index.cfm?page=eventDetail&eventNum=1522&seasonNum=8

EM
Thomas Wood
2008-12-22 04:43:35 UTC
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Well duh. Saul is stronger overall, and Israel in Egypt is better in parts.
On the secular side, L'Allegro is a great piece, and Alexander's Feast is
argueably the greatest of his odes/oratorios of all.

Tom Wood
Post by Ralph
Folks,
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply admire
the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio. IMHO both
Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works then the
Messiah. What do you think?
Ralph
William Sommerwerck
2008-12-22 12:30:29 UTC
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Forgive me, but who cares? If you like a work, you like it, etc, etc, etc.

It would be more productive to talk about those aspects of unfamiliar
oratorios you especially like.
Rodrigo de Salvo Braz
2020-11-05 23:48:04 UTC
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Post by William Sommerwerck
Forgive me, but who cares? If you like a work, you like it, etc, etc, etc.
It would be more productive to talk about those aspects of unfamiliar
oratorios you especially like.
People like me, who only know the Messiah, may care as they look for other great works to get acquainted with.

Rodrigo
g***@gmail.com
2020-11-05 23:58:49 UTC
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Post by Rodrigo de Salvo Braz
Post by William Sommerwerck
Forgive me, but who cares? If you like a work, you like it, etc, etc, etc.
It would be more productive to talk about those aspects of unfamiliar
oratorios you especially like.
People like me, who only know the Messiah, may care as they look for other great works to get acquainted with.
Rodrigo
https://www.talkclassical.com/6423-what-handel-oratorios-begin.html
A. Brain
2008-12-22 23:40:25 UTC
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Post by Thomas Wood
Well duh. Saul is stronger overall, and Israel in Egypt is better in
parts. On the secular side, L'Allegro is a great piece, and
Alexander's Feast is argueably the greatest of his odes/oratorios of
all.
Tom Wood
Post by Ralph
Folks,
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime
works then the Messiah. What do you think?
I have not heard all the oratorios or the operas,
for that matter. "Semele" is wonderful and is
sometimes called an oratorio, but better performed
as an opera.

"Serse" and "Rodelinda" are outstanding operas.

A few years ago, I picked up a box of the Somary
oratorios on Brilliant Classics. I know Somary did
"Jeptha" also, but it's missing from this set. A quick
check of both Arkiv and Amazon show that this
oratorio is not widely available at a reasonable
price, with the Somary gone and others OOP.
--
A. Brain



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Alan Cooper
2008-12-23 01:21:25 UTC
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Post by A. Brain
A few years ago, I picked up a box of the Somary
oratorios on Brilliant Classics. I know Somary did
"Jeptha" also, but it's missing from this set. A quick
check of both Arkiv and Amazon show that this
oratorio is not widely available at a reasonable
price, with the Somary gone and others OOP.
The Brilliant box of Somary recordings is still available; see
http://tinyurl.com/a4wt3z . As Mr. Brain says, for some reason Somary's Jephtha
wasn't included in that set. And while it was issued separately on Vanguard CD, that
issue is op. It's well worth having for the great soloists: Young, Forrester, Watts,
and Grist. Having learned the piece with Forrester's Hamor, I find it hard to listen
to a countertenor in the part, even one as fine as Chance (for Gardiner). My own
favorite among Handel's oratorios is Theodora, and Somary's recording of that one is
included in the Brilliant box.

AC
TareeDawg
2008-12-23 03:15:02 UTC
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Post by Alan Cooper
Post by A. Brain
A few years ago, I picked up a box of the Somary
oratorios on Brilliant Classics. I know Somary did
"Jeptha" also, but it's missing from this set. A quick
check of both Arkiv and Amazon show that this
oratorio is not widely available at a reasonable
price, with the Somary gone and others OOP.
The Brilliant box of Somary recordings is still available; see
http://tinyurl.com/a4wt3z .
It is a set that is well worth acquiring imho, for performances that one
wouldn't be able to get nowadays.
Post by Alan Cooper
As Mr. Brain says, for some reason Somary's Jephtha
wasn't included in that set.
Brilliant did issue Jeptha (a 3fer) and which is by Marcus Creed, RIAS
Choir, and Akademie for Alte Musik Berlin. Soloists are John M Ainsley
(t), Michael George(b), Catherine Denley(m-s), Christine Oelze (s), Axel
Koehler(ct) and Julia Gooding (s).

Maybe it is time I gave all these oratorios another whirl, and
especially Jeptha, as I recall it as being quite good.


And while it was issued separately on Vanguard CD, that
Post by Alan Cooper
issue is op. It's well worth having for the great soloists: Young, Forrester, Watts,
and Grist. Having learned the piece with Forrester's Hamor, I find it hard to listen
to a countertenor in the part, even one as fine as Chance (for Gardiner). My own
favorite among Handel's oratorios is Theodora, and Somary's recording of that one is
included in the Brilliant box.
Theodora is a definite delight.

Another Brilliant offering is Handel's Italian Cantatas with Maria
Zadori as soprano, originally issued on Hungaroton, and issued as a 2fer.

Ray (Dawg) Hall, Taree
A. Brain
2008-12-23 05:49:26 UTC
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Post by TareeDawg
Post by Alan Cooper
Post by A. Brain
A few years ago, I picked up a box of the Somary
oratorios on Brilliant Classics. I know Somary did
"Jeptha" also, but it's missing from this set. A quick
check of both Arkiv and Amazon show that this
oratorio is not widely available at a reasonable
price, with the Somary gone and others OOP.
The Brilliant box of Somary recordings is still available; see
http://tinyurl.com/a4wt3z .
It is a set that is well worth acquiring imho, for performances that
one wouldn't be able to get nowadays.
Post by Alan Cooper
As Mr. Brain says, for some reason Somary's Jephtha wasn't included
in that set.
Brilliant did issue Jeptha (a 3fer) and which is by Marcus Creed, RIAS
Choir, and Akademie for Alte Musik Berlin. Soloists are John M Ainsley
(t), Michael George(b), Catherine Denley(m-s), Christine Oelze (s),
Axel Koehler(ct) and Julia Gooding (s).
Maybe it is time I gave all these oratorios another whirl, and
especially Jeptha, as I recall it as being quite good.
And while it was issued separately on Vanguard CD, that
Post by Alan Cooper
issue is op. It's well worth having for the great soloists: Young,
Forrester, Watts, and Grist. Having learned the piece with
Forrester's Hamor, I find it hard to listen to a countertenor in the
part, even one as fine as Chance (for Gardiner). My own favorite
among Handel's oratorios is Theodora, and Somary's recording of that
one is included in the Brilliant box.
Theodora is a definite delight.
Another Brilliant offering is Handel's Italian Cantatas with Maria
Zadori as soprano, originally issued on Hungaroton, and issued as a 2fer.
Gardiner's set is available reasonably from
Amazon sellers. I guess maybe the Somary
was available cheap a couple of years ago
when Vanguard was going through some
kind of transition.

Vanguard was one of the best American
labels in the LP days--always good
recordings and pressings. And they had
quite a catalog of classical and pop stuff.

I picked up the Woeldike recording of
Saul, a 1995 CD reissue, a couple of
months ago. I think it was the first
recording of the piece, Vienna 1962.

Anyone know what's going on with
the Vanguard catalog these days?
--
A. Brain



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Recovered Reviewer
2008-12-23 06:58:52 UTC
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Post by A. Brain
Vanguard was one of the best American
labels in the LP days--always good
recordings and pressings. And they had
quite a catalog of classical and pop stuff.
I picked up the Woeldike recording of
Saul, a 1995 CD reissue, a couple of
months ago. I think it was the first
recording of the piece, Vienna 1962.
Anyone know what's going on with
the Vanguard catalog these days?
Here: It doesn't look very promising, something more for
Tepper to piss and moan about:
\
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanguard_Records

http://www.vanguardrecords.com/

John Wiser
Jicotea Used Books
Howells NY 10932 0136 USA
***@gmail.com
http://www.amazon.com/shops/ceeclef
William Sommerwerck
2008-12-23 13:23:22 UTC
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Post by Recovered Reviewer
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanguard_Records
http://www.vanguardrecords.com
According to Wikipedia...

"Vanguard Classics was sold after Seymour Solomon's death to Artemis Records
which reactivated the company with new releases by Leon Fleisher and Gil
Shaham. When Artemis folded in 2004 the Vanguard Classics catalogue was sold
to Sheridan Square Entertainment which is licensing the Vanguard Classics
material with no apparent plans to relaunch or reactivate the label."

At least I got a few of the Artemis multi-ch SACDs -- which were reasonably
priced, by the way. I guess that means you can't stay in business unless you
gouge the customer.
A. Brain
2008-12-23 22:58:56 UTC
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Post by Recovered Reviewer
Post by A. Brain
Vanguard was one of the best American
labels in the LP days--always good
recordings and pressings. And they had
quite a catalog of classical and pop stuff.
I picked up the Woeldike recording of
Saul, a 1995 CD reissue, a couple of
months ago. I think it was the first
recording of the piece, Vienna 1962.
Anyone know what's going on with
the Vanguard catalog these days?
Here: It doesn't look very promising, something more for
\
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanguard_Records
http://www.vanguardrecords.com/
Wasn't their Fleisher CD "Two Hands" something
of a bestseller? And they could have re-packaged
it with the video of the same name and perhaps had
a nice little side business of classical and along with
their rich catalogue of historical recordings....
--
A. Brain



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Al Eisner
2008-12-24 22:39:04 UTC
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Post by A. Brain
A few years ago, I picked up a box of the Somary
oratorios on Brilliant Classics. I know Somary did
"Jeptha" also, but it's missing from this set. A quick
check of both Arkiv and Amazon show that this
oratorio is not widely available at a reasonable
price, with the Somary gone and others OOP.
Berkshire sells a 40-CD Handel box with various conductors for $39.60.
This includes Jephtha. I can't say anything about performances.
--
Al Eisner
Terry
2008-12-22 08:59:52 UTC
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Post by Ralph
Folks,
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works
then the Messiah. What do you think?
Ralph
They're all good.
--
Cheers!

Terry
Kevin N
2008-12-22 16:00:21 UTC
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Post by Terry
Post by Ralph
Folks,
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works
then the Messiah. What do you think?
Ralph
They're all good.
--
Cheers!
Terry
Of course they are all masterpieces, but I think Messiah cannot
compete with Saul as a dramatic work, and not with Solomon for its
big, chest-pound choruses; and they all dim in comparison with some of
the operas such as Julius Caesar.

Still I love Messiah very dearly, overplayed as it is. Mr. Handel
could do so much with so little!
Harry C
2008-12-22 09:41:13 UTC
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Post by Ralph
Folks,
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works
then the Messiah. What do you think?
Ralph
It is not possible to pick a *greatest* Handel oratorio, any more than
it is possible, say, to pick the greatest Mozart piano concerto, or
the greatest Shakespeare play.

Handel fans tend, I think, to downplay "Messiah" simply because it
often unfairly overshadows other masterpieces of comparable stature.
But "Messiah" is, I think, without doubt, *among* the greatest.

My own personal favourite is possibly "Saul" - but it all depends on
what mood I'm in.

While we're on the subject of the great Handel oratorios, I am still
waiting for a recording of "Samson" that comes close to doing justice
to this very great work.

Harry C
Christopher Webber
2008-12-22 14:43:57 UTC
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Post by Ralph
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works
then the Messiah. What do you think?
There's not a single one of his oratorios without great and surprising
beauties, and many of them will doubtless find champions in this thread.
Even such obscure works as "Alexander Balus" pay huge dividends to the
listener.

But if it is "sublimity" you're after, then I think "Jephtha" is the
next to go for (and preferably the Gardiner set amongst more modern
versions: though the antiquated one conducted by Somary with Alexander
Young in the title role remains my personal favourite, and should be
available very cheaply).
--
___________________________
Christopher Webber, Blackheath, London, UK.
http://www.zarzuela.net
l***@gmail.com
2017-10-02 00:47:27 UTC
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Post by Ralph
Folks,
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works
then the Messiah. What do you think?
Ralph
Terry
2017-10-02 01:01:31 UTC
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Post by Ralph
Folks,
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works
then the Messiah. What do you think?
Ralph
There are many fine oratorios. Fortunately, we don't have to choose. These days we can hear them all. As a matter of fact, "Messiah" is in fact my favourite.
l***@gmail.com
2017-10-02 00:48:35 UTC
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Post by Ralph
Folks,
Sure this is the season to listen to Handel's Messiah, and I deeply
admire the work, but I don't think it is Handel's greatest oratorio.
IMHO both Saul and Israel in Egypt are more beautiful and sublime works
then the Messiah. What do you think?
Ralph
my favorite is Theodora.......which was also Handel's.
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