Handel: Israel in Egypt; Chandos Anthem No. 10

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WORKS: Israel in Egypt; Chandos Anthem No. 10
PERFORMER: April Cantelo, Elizabeth Gale, Lillian Watson (soprano), James Bowman (alto), Ian Partridge (tenor), Tom McDonnell, Alan Watt (bass); Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, ECO/Simon Preston; Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, ASMF/ David Willcocks
CATALOGUE NO: 443 470-2 ADD (1968/76)
‘Too solemn for common ears’ was one contemporary verdict on the 1756 revival of Israel in Egypt – and that was the shortened version, omitting the gravely beautiful anthemic music of the original Part One. Composed in 1738, Israel in Egypt is Handel’s least theatrical oratorio, with few solo arias and nearly all of the music given to the chorus. This 1975 Decca recording of the truncated version is perfectly fine (with James Bowman outstanding), but I’d recommend the 1989 performance conducted by Andrew Parrott (EMI), which restores Part One, has stronger soloists and is the sprightlier, more vivid account. Graham Lock