Handel: Judas Maccabaeus

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LABELS: Archiv
WORKS: Judas Maccabaeus
PERFORMER: Ryland Davies, Felicity Palmer, Janet Baker, John Shirley-Quirk, Christopher Keyte, Paul Esswood; Wandsworth School Choir, ECO/Charles Mackerras
CATALOGUE NO: 447 692-2 ADD (1977)
Surely a Judas Maccabaeus recorded on modern instruments nearly twenty years ago is one to ignore? Well, no. Charles Mackerras is one of music’s fresher minds, and he has always favoured incisive rhythms, clear textures, light bowing and carefully varied articulation in Baroque music. The ECO responds with verve to the wondrous grace and variety of Handel’s music. The late Russell Burgess’s Wandsworth School Choir is an eloquent testament of what is possible in an inner-city comprehensive given will-power and a gifted enough teacher. And who would willingly trade a cast of Ryland Davies as Maccabaeus, John Shirley-Quirk as Simon, the incomparable Felicity Palmer and Janet Baker, at the height of their powers, as the Israelitish Woman and Man, for another? Not I. Stephen Pettitt