Veronika Winter, Heike Grotzinger, Hans Jorg Mammel, Ekkehard Ab Monica Frimmer - Handel (Arr. Mendelssohn): Israel In Agypten (2009)

Veronika Winter, Heike Grotzinger, Hans Jorg Mammel, Ekkehard Ab Monica Frimmer - Handel (Arr. Mendelssohn): Israel In Agypten (2009)

Artist: Veronika Winter, Heike Grotzinger, Hans Jorg Mammel, Ekkehard Ab Monica Frimmer
Title: Handel (Arr. Mendelssohn): Israel In Agypten
Year Of Release: 2009
Label: CPO
Genre: Classical
Quality: FLAC (image + .cue, log, scans)
Total Time: 82:19 min
Total Size: 430 MB


CD 1
01 "Ouverture"
02 "Rezitativ Num kam ein neuer Konig uber Agypten (Tenor)"
03 "Chorus Aber die Kinder Israels schrien"
04 "Rezitativ De sandt' er Moses, seinen Diener (Tenor)"
05 "Rezitativ Aber die Zaubrer auch (Bass)"
06 "Arie Und FrAsche ohne Zahl bedeckten das Land (Bass)"
07 "Rezitativ Die Plage wich (Tenor)"
08 "Chorus Er sprach das Wart"
09 "Rezitativ Dies neue Wunder zeigt die Ohnmacht (Tenor)"
10 "Rezitativ Doch Pharao trotzt in seinem stolzen Herzen (Tenor)"
11 "Chorus Hagel statt Regen fiel herab"
12 "Rezitativ Pharao sah's an mit tiefem Jammer (Bass)"
13 "Rezitativ Mases verlie? die Stadt mit frohem Herzen (Tenor)"
14 "Rezitativ Als Pharao alles friedlich ruhen sah (Bass)"
15 "Chorus Er sandte diche Finsternis uber all' das Land"
16 "Rezitativ Doch als nun Pharao wieder sah die Sonne (Tenor)"
17 "Chorus Er schlug alle Erstgeburt Agyptens"
18 "Chorus Aber mit seinem Volke zag er dahin"
19 "Rezitativ Und Israel war befreit (Sopran)"
20 "Arie Hoffnung lindert unsre Schmerzen (Sopran)"
21 "Chorus Er gebat der Meerflut"
22 "Chorus Er fuhrte sie hindurch"
23 "Chorus Aber die Fluten uberwaltigten der Feinder Schar"

CD 2
01 "Zweiter Teil, Chor: Moses Und Die Kinder Israel Sangen Also Zu Dem Herrn"
02 "Chor: Ich Will Singen Meinem Gott"
03 "Duett (S1, S2): Der Herr Ist Mein Heil Und Mein Lied"
04 "Chor: Er Ist Mein Gott"
05 "Chor: Die Tiefe Deckte Sie"
06 "Chor: Deine Rechte, O Herr, Tut Gro?e, Herrliche Wunder"
07 "Chor: Und In Der Gro?e Deiner Herrlichkeit"
08 "Duet (A, B): Die Himmel Sind Dein"
09 "Chor: Und Von Dem Hauch Deines Mundes"
10 "Arie (S): So Dachte Der Feind"
11 "Arie (S): Aber Du Lie?est Wehen Deinen Wind"
12 "Chor: Wer Ist Dir Gleich, O Herr, Unter Den Gottern?"
13 "Chor: Da Verschlang Sie Das Grab"
14 "Chor: Das Horen Die Volker Und Sind Erstaunt"
15 "Arie (A): Bringe Sie Hinein Und Pflanze Sie"
16 "Chor: Der Herr Ist Konig Immer Und Ewig"
17 "Rezit (T): Denn Die Reiter Pharaos Mit All' Ihren Wagen"
18 "Chor: Der Herr Ist Konig Immer Und Ewig"
19 "Rezit (T): Und Mirjam Die Prophetin"
20 "Chor: Singet Unserem Gott"

Felix Mendelssohn was involved in performances of Handel's Israel in Egypt throughout his career. He first conducted it in May 1833. In October of the same year, he conducted it at the Lower Rhine Musical Festival in Dusseldorf. Immediately before this performance, Mendelssohn had visited London, where he was able to inspect performance materials and a libretto from Handel's lifetime and the period shortly afterwards. He used some of this research in his performing edition of the oratorio. He returned to the work in 1842 and 1844, and prepared an edition for publication in 1845.

Israel in Egypt was not a success when it premiered in 1739. The oratorio was in three parts, the first of which was Handel's The Ways of Zion Do Mourn, the funeral anthem he had written for Queen Caroline, with a few verbal changes to make it a lament of the Israelites on the death of Joseph. For the second performance, Handel added four arias in an attempt to lessen the overwhelming number of choruses compared to solo numbers. This attempt was not a success, and after two additional performances, Handel did not perform the oratorio again until 1756, at which time part I was replaced by an abridged version of act I of Solomon. Eventually, part I was dropped entirely, and the work was performed as a two-part oratorio.

For his performing edition of Israel in Egypt, Mendelssohn had first to deal with the lack of keyboard accompaniment. The hall where the work was performed had no organ, and of course there was no harpsichord. To make up for this lack, Mendelssohn added discrete clarinet parts with instructions that they be omitted where an organ was available. Because Handel's orchestral forces were large and varied, using trombones, trumpets, tympani, oboes, and bassoons, along with strings and keyboard instruments, Mendelssohn apparently did not find it necessary to augment the score in the manner of Mozart's additions to several Handel works. Listeners will discern little if any difference in the orchestration of most musical numbers. Recitatives are accompanied by two cellos.

The major difference, and it is a big one, involves cuts and additions to the score. In part I, three choruses are cut: "They loathed to drink," "Egypt was glad when they departed," and "And Israel saw . . . and believed the Lord." "Their land brought forth frogs" is transposed for bass. Six recitatives are added; previously attributed to Handel, these are now considered the work of his assistant, J. C. Smith. One aria, based on "Dulcis amor" from Silete venti, is added. The cuts in part II involve two choruses, "And I will prepare him" and "Thou sentest forth thy wrath," and two duets, "The Lord is a man of war" and "Thou in thy mercy." "The enemy said" is transferred from tenor to soprano, and a duet, "The Heavens are thine," from the Chandos Anthem My song shall be alway, is added.

The performance recorded here is based on the 1833 Dusseldorf performance. At that music festival, the chorus numbered 275, and there were 134 orchestra members, almost all amateurs. There is no attempt to duplicate those forces here. The chorus numbers 29, the orchestra 32. Thus, the sound is typical of other period-instrument recordings, except for the lack of organ and harpsichord. Das Kleine Konzert is an expert group that has participated in many recordings, and their work here is exemplary. The Rheinische Kantorei makes a very full sound, even in the eight-part choruses. Hermann Max leads a well-considered, reasonably paced performance.

The best singing is from the lower voices. The tenor and two bases are excellent, although I wondered why two bases were used, since their duet is cut. The alto also sings well. Of the two sopranos, Monika Frimmer has a more attractive voice than Veronika Winter, whose voice, lacking any hint of vibrato, is a type I find unattractive.

I can understand the reason for an occasional performance of this type of arrangement, but I fail to see much value in its preservation on disc. When I want to hear Israel in Egypt, I will turn to one of the performances of Handel's original score. -- Fanfare, Ron Salemi, Nov/Dec 2009

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