Steffen Balbach

Image by Josef-Stefan Kindler, www.kuk-art.com. All rights reserved.
Steffen Balbach
Bass Vocals

Steffen Balbach was born in 1971 and studied church music at the College of Church Music in Esslingen. He was full time cantor of the Christus-Church in Donaueschingen and completed his vocal studies at the Freiburg Conservatory with the highest possible point count. Since then, he has sung the bass and baritone parts of countless oratorios, cantatas and masses. In 2001 he reached the final round of the renowned international vocal competition Belvedere in Vienna. Stefan Balbach works with the choir of Radio Bavaria and the Gewandhaus-Kammerchor, Leipzig. He has been a choir member and soloist of the National Opera in Stuttgart since 2002.

George Fr. Handel · Saul

Cover: CD Release
Cover: Digital Music Album
EUR 33,00
2 CD
George Frideric Handel:
S A U L

The English Oratorio HWV 53,
performed according to the traditions of the time
by Nancy Argenta (Soprano), Laurie Reviol (Soprano),
Michael Chance (Countertenor), Mark Le Brocq (Tenor),
Michael Berner (Tenor), Stephen Varcoe (Bass), Steffen Balbach (Bass),
Hanoverian Court Orchestra (Hannoversche Hofkapelle),
Maulbronn Chamber Choir (Maulbronner Kammerchor)
Conductor: Jürgen Budday

A concert recording from the church of the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery

HD Recording · DDD · Double Album · c. 150 Minutes

Previews

Work(s) & Performance

T

his live recording is part of a cycle of oratorios and masses, performed in the basilica of Maulbronn Abbey under the direction of Jürgen Budday. The series combines authentically performed oratorios and masses with the optimal acoustics and atmosphere of this unique monastic church. This ideal location demands the transparency of playing and the interpretive unveiling of the rhetoric intimations of the composition, which is especially aided by the historically informed performance. The music is exclusively performed on reconstructed historical instruments, which are tuned to the pitch customary in the composer's lifetimes (this performance is tuned in a' = 415 Hz).

George Frideric Handel

I

n July 1738 Handel began to compose the monumental and heroic story of Saul. The libretto had been put together by Charles Jennens, a very wealthy literary dilettante with many pretensions, but some talent. He played to Handel's strengths, and gave the composer many dramatic opportunities in the libretto. Handel had a difficult time finishing this oratorio, interrupting it to compose the opera Imeneo.
The story of David and Saul has always been a popular one, and on the English stage it is represented by a magnificent operatic scena by Henry Purcell. The tragedy of Saul is stark, and concerns his derangement, his moral failings, and his heroism. The drama is given a spiritual and magical element with the Witch of Endor and the ghost of Samuel as intermediaries into the next world. The dramatic chorus, again used as a chorus might be used in a classic Greek tragedy, moves the drama along, creates the moods, and influences the action. It is a chorus of Saul's people, who are heavily involved in his fate, and in the results of his actions. Handel composed for bass voice, tenor, and countertenor, and refrained from introducing into the score a virtuosic castrato as was common in his day. The somberness of the story required natural male voices whose depth adds to the gravity and weight of the outcome. The tragedy of Saul is filled with high drama, and although the chorus again proves the flexibility of the oratorio form, the characterizations and solo music are filled with passion, and vigor.
The first part opens with the first scene in the Israelitish camp, where the people join in a song of Triumph over Goliath and the Philistines. It is made up of a chorus ("How excellent Thy Name, O Lord!"), which is a stirring tribute of praise; an aria ("An Infant raised by Thy Command"), describing the meeting of David and Goliath; a trio, in which the giant is pictured as the "monster atheist," striding along to the vigorous and expressive music; and three closing choruses ("The Youth inspired by Thee"), ("How excellent Thy Name"), and a jubilant ("Hallelujah"), ending in plain but massive harmony.
The second scene is in Saul's tent. Two bars of recitative prelude an aria by Michal, Saul's daughter, who reveals her love for David ("O god-like Youth!"). Abner presents David to Saul, and a dialogue ensues between them, in which the conqueror announces his origin, and Saul pleads with him to remain, offering the hand of his daughter Merab as an inducement. David, whose part is sung by a contralto, replies in a beautiful aria, in which he attributes his success to the help of the Lord alone. In the next four numbers the friendship of Jonathan and David is cemented, which is followed by a three-verse hymn ("While yet Thy Tide of Blood runs high") of a stately character, sung by the High Priest. In a few bars of recitative Saul betroths his daughter Merab to David; but the girl replies in a vigorous aria ("My Soul rejects the Thought with Scorn"), in which she declares her intention of frustrating the scheme to unite a plebeian with the royal line. It is followed by a plaintive but vigorous aria ("See with what a scornful Air"), sung by Michal, who again gives expression to her love for David.
The next scene is entitled "Before an Israelitish City," and is prefaced with a short symphony of a jubilant character. A brief recitative introduces the maidens of the land singing and dancing in praise of the victor, leading up to one of Handel's finest choruses ("Welcome, welcome, mighty King") -- a fresh, a vigorous semi-chorus accompanied by the carillons, in which Saul's jealousy is aroused by the superiority of prowess attributed to David. It is followed by a furious aria ("With Rage I shall burst, his Praises to hear"). Jonathan laments the imprudence of the women in making comparisons, and Michal suggests to David that it is an old malady which may be assuaged by music, and in an aria ("Fell Rage and black Despair") expresses her belief that the monarch can be cured by David's persuasive lyre."
The next scene is in the King's house. David sings an aria ("O Lord whose Mercies numberless"), followed by a harp solo; but in vain. Jonathan is in despair, and Saul, in an aria ("A Serpent in my Bosom warmed"), gives vent to his fury and hurls his javelin at David. The latter escapes; and in furious recitative Saul charges his son to destroy him. The next number is an aria of Merab ("Capricious Man, in Humor lost"), lamenting Saul's temper; and Jonathan follows with a dramatic recitative and aria, in which he refuses to obey his father's behest. The High Priest appeals to Heaven ("O Lord, whose Providence") to protect David, and the first part closes with a powerful chorus ("Preserve him for the Glory of Thy Name").
The second part is laid in the place, and opens with a powerfully descriptive chorus ("Envy, eldest-born of Hell!"). In the noble song ("But sooner Jordan's Stream, I swear") Jonathan assures David he will never injure him. In a colloquy between them David is informed that Saul has bestowed the hand of the haughty Merab on Adriel, and Jonathan pleads the cause of the lovely Michal. Saul approaches, and David retires. Saul inquires of Jonathan whether he has obeyed his commands, and in a simple sweet, and flowing melody ("Sin not, O King, against the Youth") he seems to overcome the wrath of the monarch, who dissembles and welcomes David, bidding him to repel to the insults of the Philistines, and offering him his daughter Michal as a proof of his sincerity. In the second scene Michal declares her love for David, and they join in a raptorous duet ("O fairest of ten thousand fair"), which is followed by a chorus in simple harmony ("Is there a Man who all his Ways"). A long symphony follows, preparing the way for the attempt on David's Life. After an agitated duet with Michal ("At Persecution I can laugh"), David makes his escape just as Doeg, the messenger, enters with instructions to bring David to the King's chamber. He is shown the image in David's bed, which he says will only enrage the King still more. Michal sings an exultant aria ("No, let the Guilty tremble"), and even Merab, won over by David's qualities, pleads for him in a beautiful aria ("Author of Peace"). Another symphony intervenes, preluding the celebration of the feast of the new moon in the place, to which David has been invited. Jonathan again interposes with an effort to save David's life, whereupon Saul, in a fresh outburst of indignation, hurls his javelin at his son, and the chorus bursts out in horror ("Oh, fatal Consequence of Rage!").
The third part opens with the intensely dramatic scene with the Witch of Endor, the interview being preluded by the powerful recitative ("Wretch that I am!"). The second scene is laid in the Witch's abode, where the incantation is practised that brings up the apparition of Samuel. This scene closes with an elegy foreboding the coming tragedy. The third scene opens with the interview between David and the Amalekite who brings the tidings of the death of Saul and Jonathan. It is followed by that magnificent dirge, the "Dead March," whose simply yet solemn and majestic strains are familiar to every one. The trumpets and trombones with their sonorous pomp and the wailing oboes and clarinets make an instrumental pageant which is the very apotheosis of grief. The effect of the march is all the more remarkable when it is considered that, in contradistinction to all other dirges, it is written in the major key. The chorus ("Mourn, Israel, mourn thy Beauty lost"), and the three arias of lament sung by David, which follow, are all characterized by feelings of the deepest gloom. A short chorus ("Eagles were not so swift as they") follows, and then David gives voice to his lament over Jonathan in an aria of exquisite tenderness ("In sweetest Harmony they lived"), at the close of which he joins with the chorus in an obligato of sorrowful grandeur ("Oh, fatal Day, how long the Mighty Lie!"). In an exultant strain Abner bids the "men of Judah weep no more," and the animated martial chorus ("Gird on thy Sword, thou Man of Might") closes this great dramatic oratorio.

Series & Edition

P

ublishing Authentic Classical Concerts entails for us capturing and recording outstanding performances and concerts for posterity. The performers, audience, opus and room enter into an intimate dialogue that in its form and expression, its atmosphere, is unique and unrepeatable. It is our aim, the philosophy of our house, to enable the listener to acutely experience every facet of this symbiosis, the intensity of the performance, so we record the concerts in direct 2-Track Stereo digital HD. The results are unparalleled interpretations of musical and literary works, simply - audiophile snapshots of permanent value. Flourishing culture, enthralling the audience and last but not least also you the listener, are the values we endeavor to document in our editions and series.

The concerts at the UNESCO World Heritage Maulbronn Monastery supply the ideal conditions for our aspirations. It is, above all, the atmosphere of the romantic, candle-lit arches, the magic of the monastery in its unadulterated sublime presence and tranquillity that impresses itself upon the performers and audience of these concerts. Renowned soloists and ensembles from the international arena repeatedly welcome the opportunity to appear here - enjoying the unparalleled acoustic and architectural beauty of this World Heritage Site, providing exquisite performances of secular and sacred music, documented by us in our Maulbronn Monastery Edition.

Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler, K&K Verlagsanstalt

Review

***** A superb listening treat

LIVE PERFORMANCE FROM MAULBRONN BRINGS 'SAUL' TO LIFE!

I have just finished listening to the oratorio 'SAUL' from Maulbronn conducted by Jurgen Budday. It leaves me breathless with it's high drama and excellent singing. The fact that this is a LIVE performance makes it all the more exciting to hear... This is a superb listening treat!

George Peabody 'Ariel' on Amazon.com

(A voice teacher and early music fan from Carlisle, Pa. USA)

Review

Spendidly performed

Georg Frideric Handel’s glorious oratorio in three movements, Saul, is splendidly performed here in English by Nancy Argenta, Laurie Reviol, Michael Chance, Mark LeBrocq, Michael Berner, Stephen Varcoe and Steffen Balbach, together with the Hannoversche Hofkapelle and Maulbronner Kammerchor, conducted by Juergen Budday. This atmospheric concert recording was made in 2002 in the historical setting of the beautiful convent church of Maulbronn. Other albums in the beautifully produced Maulbronn Edition from K & K include performances of Gounod’s Missa Solemnis (ISBN 3-930643-63-4) and an cappella concert, Goettliche Liturgie, with Don Kosaken singing works from the Russian Missa (ISBN 3-930643-72-3). For more informion, see the K&K website.

new-classics.co.uk

Review

***** Five Stars

Enjoyed it greatly

Sally Ann Mcallister on Amazon.com

George Fr. Handel · Solomon

Cover
EUR 33,00
2 CD
George Frideric Handel:
S O L O M O N

The English Oratorio HWV 67,
performed according to the traditions of the time
by Nancy Argenta (Soprano), Laurie Reviol (Soprano),
Michael Chance (Countertenor), Julian Podger (Tenor),
Steffen Balbach (Bass), Hanoverian Court Orchestra
and Maulbronn Chamber Choir
Conductor: Jürgen Budday.

A concert recording from the church of the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery

HD Recording · DDD · Double Album · c. 150 Minutes

Previews

Art Movie(s)

Work(s) & Performance

T

his live recording is part of a cycle of oratorios and masses, performed in the basilica of Maulbronn Abbey under the direction of Jürgen Budday. The series combines authentically performed oratorios and masses with the optimal acoustics and atmosphere of this unique monastic church. This ideal location demands the transparency of playing and the interpretive unveiling of the rhetoric intimations of the composition, which is especially aided by the historically informed performance. The music is exclusively performed on reconstructed historical instruments, which are tuned to the pitch customary in the composer's lifetimes (this performance is tuned in a' = 415 Hz).
The two four-voice choirs are placed separately, allowing the listener to experience the complexity of the choir parts with more transparency making the unique stereophony of this work more concrete.

George Frideric Handel

I

n the summer months of 1748 Handel composed the two oratorios Solomon and Susanna for the ensuing season. He started on Solomon on 5th May 1748 and terminated the score on 13th June 1748 with the devotion S.(Soli) D.(Deo) G.(Gloria). The work is considered a link to Handel's later oratorios. His earlier oratorios are coloured with political affairs and allusions, as in his famous oratorio Judas Maccabaeus, inspired by the Scottish rebellion of 1745. Solomon depicts a wise and god-fearing ruler, with Solomon's court presenting the image of an ideal society. The central theme of the libretto has its origin in narratives from the Old Testament: the Book of Kings (1st Kings 1-11) and the Chronicles (2nd Chr. 1-9), among others. Despite this, one ascribes this oratorio not only aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but also a pantheistic world view, in which God is to be found in all aspects of life. The different qualities of King Solomon are demonstrated and celebrated in the various acts of the oratorio. It is often suggested that Handel wished to extol the golden age of England and its ruler, George II who had granted him English nationality. Handel praised the glory of England and its monarchs with this oratorio by equating them with Israel and King Solomon. He used a, for that time, very large orchestra and was able to use the unparalleled expressive possibilities in his depiction of "pomp and circumstance". The oratorio is not distinguished with a dramatic plot, but rather contains juxtaposed pictures and scenes. The ensuing static impression that emerges is balanced by the richness of colour in the individual tableaus. The different scenes and events allow Handel to use his whole palette of compositoric expression. Differentiated instrumentation, large choral pieces, soloistic elements and sensitive musical character studies demonstrate Handels great artistic ability. With two choirs and seven eight-voice choir parts he exhausts all at that time existing composition possibilities. By casting Solomon with a countertenor he uses opera's tradition of elevating heroes abounding with nearly supernatural strength and wisdom into the superhuman by using feminine voices.
In the first act, Solomon appears as a God-fearing King, celebrating the finishing of the temple in Jerusalem with his people, following which we see the love to his wife, his generosity, his gentleness and fidelity. Powerful, jubilant choirs bear witness to the court's splendour and glory. The passage in the text "till distant nations catch the song" from the choirs' With pious heart is composed very vividly by Handel. The numerous fugal entries mirror the different nations that spread God's message. The act ends with the royal couple's retreat into the bedchamber accompanied by a soft background choir. Nightingales (flutes) and warm breezes (deep rustling of the violins and violas) enhance the twilight atmosphere.
In the second act, the famous story of Solomon's wise judgment is told. A servant brings the petition of two dissenting women who are seeking the King's judgment. It is revealed that both women have given birth to a son. It is asserted that one of the sons died in the night and the mother swapped her dead son with the other woman's child. Both now claim to be the true mother and denote the other a liar. In this difficult situation, Solomon uses a clever ruse. He proclaims the child should be cut in two and each woman should be given one half. While one of the women consents, the other woman desperately asks him to spare her innocent child. She would rather let the other woman have him than to see him die. Thus Solomon recognizes in her sorrow and despair the true love of a mother and returns the child to her. The musical high points in this act are primarily the portrayals of the main figures, with distinctive motifs being assigned to each individual. Hard, syncopated rhythms characterize the envy, the inner turbulence and the wickedness of the childless woman, whereas the other woman, seeing her child in great danger, is accompanied by dotted figures in the bass line, which form the basic atmosphere of gnawing fear. Dissonant suspensions and modulations increase this fearful tension, until the difficult decision "take him all" leads to a resolution in major with a simultaneous, descending, mournful bass line. The characters join Solomon to form a musically masterful trio. Handel is able to elaborate and illuminate their characteristics in an unparalleled way.
With the arrival of the Queen of Sheba, the final act of the oratorio demonstrates Solomon's "foreign policy" ability. Choir pieces expressing the most diverse human emotions are performed for her entertainment, allowing Handel to demonstrate his full range of composing skills. Possibly Handel deliberately wished to incorporate the four tempers in these chorals for the Queen of Sheba: sanguine Music, spread thy voice around, choleric Shake the dome, melancholic Draw the tear from hopeless love and phlegmatic Thus rolling surges rise... and all is calm again. In the choral Shake the dome, the two choirs confront each other like two armies in battle and are further roused by the extreme dotted rhythms of the strings. The audience experiences the choirs from the standpoint of the Queen of Sheba and is thus drawn into the happenings in a way analogous to the Greek dramas. The Queen of Sheba shows herself to be impressed with the choirs' tonal versatility and Solomon's court. The following choral, Praise the Lord with harp and tongue, exalting not only God but also and above all Solomon, is one of Handel's most magnificent works for two choirs and is thus sometimes used as the final chorale. Here, however, there follows the farewells of the two rulers and the oratorio finishes with the moral essence, "The name of the wicked shall quickly be past; but the fame of the just shall eternally last".

Series & Edition

P

ublishing Authentic Classical Concerts entails for us capturing and recording outstanding performances and concerts for posterity. The performers, audience, opus and room enter into an intimate dialogue that in its form and expression, its atmosphere, is unique and unrepeatable. It is our aim, the philosophy of our house, to enable the listener to acutely experience every facet of this symbiosis, the intensity of the performance, so we record the concerts in direct 2-Track Stereo digital HD. The results are unparalleled interpretations of musical and literary works, simply - audiophile snapshots of permanent value. Flourishing culture, enthralling the audience and last but not least also you the listener, are the values we endeavor to document in our editions and series.

The concerts at the UNESCO World Heritage Maulbronn Monastery supply the ideal conditions for our aspirations. It is, above all, the atmosphere of the romantic, candle-lit arches, the magic of the monastery in its unadulterated sublime presence and tranquillity that impresses itself upon the performers and audience of these concerts. Renowned soloists and ensembles from the international arena repeatedly welcome the opportunity to appear here - enjoying the unparalleled acoustic and architectural beauty of this World Heritage Site, providing exquisite performances of secular and sacred music, documented by us in our Maulbronn Monastery Edition.

Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler, K&K Verlagsanstalt

Review

I assure you that all Oratorios from Maulbronn are first-rate

This CD is the first one that I heard from Maulbronn and I was stunned by the entire performance! It was exciting both vocally and instrumentally; I found it impossible to pause even for sustenance. Jurgen Budday has assembled a great lineup of soloists who projected their respective roles perfectly. For the most part the words of the chorus were understandable and created the proper dramatic tension. Michael Chance as Solomon displayed his usual skill in getting inside the role and the songs. The scene with the 2 harlots who were both claiming the same child was compellingly realistic. So many great songs by Handel on this disc I wouldn't want to have missed it! Since then I have purchased 4 more Oratorios from Maulbronn.

I assure you that they are all first-rate!

George Peabody 'Ariel' on Amazon.com - A voice teacher and early music fan from Carlisle, Pa. USA

George Fr. Handel · Israel in Egypt

Israel in Egypt: CD-Cover
Israel in Egypt: Digital Album Cover
EUR 33,00
2 CD
George Frideric Handel:
ISRAEL IN EGYPT

The unedited version from 1739 of the
English Oratorio HWV 54,
performed according to the traditions of the time
by Miriam Allan & Sarah Wegener (Soprano),
David Allsopp (Countertenor),
Benjamin Hulett (Tenor),
Steffen Balbach & Daniel Raschinsky (Bass),
Hanoverian Court Orchestra (Hannoversche Hofkapelle),
Maulbronn Chamber Choir (Maulbronner Kammerchor)
Conductor: Jürgen Budday

A concert recording from the church of the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery

HD Recording · DDD · Double Album · c. 96 Minutes

Previews

Art Movie(s)

Work(s) & Performance

T

his live recording is part of a cycle of oratorios and masses, performed in the basilica of Maulbronn Abbey under the direction of Jürgen Budday. The series combines authentically performed oratorios and masses with the optimal acoustics and atmosphere of this unique monastic church. This ideal location demands the transparency of playing and the interpretive unveiling of the rhetoric intimations of the composition, which is especially aided by the historically informed performance. The music is exclusively performed on reconstructed historical instruments, which are tuned to the pitch customary in the composer's lifetimes (this performance is tuned in a' = 415 Hz).

George Frideric Handel

D

uring the second half of the 17th century, there were trends toward the secularization of the religious oratorio. Evidence of this lies in its regular performance outside church halls in courts and public theaters. Whether religious or secular, the theme of an oratorio is meant to be weighty. It could include such topics as Creation, the life of Jesus, or the career of a classical hero or biblical prophet. Other changes eventually took place as well, possibly because most composers of oratorios were also popular composers of operas. They began to publish the librettos of their oratorios as they did for their operas. George Frideric Handel also wrote secular oratorios based on themes from Greek and Roman mythology. He is also credited with writing the first English language oratorio.
"Israel in Egypt", the fifth of the nineteen oratorios which Handel composed in England, was written in 1738, the composition of the whole colossal work occupying but twenty-seven days. It was first performed April 4, 1739, at the King's Theatre, of which Handel was then manager. It is essentially a choral oratorio. It comprises no less than twenty-eight massive double choruses, linked together by a few bars of recitative, with five arias and three duets interspersed among them. Unlike Handel's other oratorios, there is no overture or even prelude to the work. Therefore - exactly how conductor Jürgen Budday did it - many artists starts the performance of "Israel in Egypt" with the Overture from the Oratorio "Solomon". Especially because of the fact, that Handel replaced in 1756 the first part of "Israel in Egypt" (which was originally a funeral anthem for Queen Caroline) through an shortened version of the first act from his oratorio "Solomon".
Handel's London oratorios usually includes three parts or acts. However, "Israel in Egypt" has been published and almost performed with two parts, which follows the compositional technique for Oratorios in Italy.
The first part describes "the exodus" of the Israelites from Egypt to escape the slavery. Six bars of recitative for tenor suffice to introduce the first part, "Exodus", and lead directly to the first double chorus, the theme of which is first given out by the altos of one choir with impressive pathos. The chorus works up to a climax of great force on the phrase ("And their Cry came up unto God"), the two choruses developing with consummate power the two principal subjects - first, the cry for relief, the second, the burden of oppression; and closing with the phrase above mentioned, upon which they unite in simple but majestic harmony. Then follow eight more bars of recitative for tenor, and the long series of descriptive choruses begins, in which Handel employs the imitative power of music in the boldest manner.
The second part, "The Song of Moses", is basically a huge praise and victory anthem, which reflects the persecution and salvation. It ends in praise and glory to the Lord. A few bars of recitative referring to the escape of Israel, the choral outburst once more repeated, and then the solo voice declaring ("Miriam the prophetess took a trimbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances; and Miriam answered them"), lead to the final song of triumph. That grand, jubilant, overpowering expression of victory which, beginning with the exultant strain of Miriam ("Sing ye to the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously"), is amplified by voice upon voice in the great eight-part choir, and by instrument upon instrument, until it becomes a tempest of harmony, interwoven with the triumph of Miriam's cry and the exultation of the great host over the enemy's discomfiture, and closing with the combined power of voices and instruments in harmonious accord as they once more repeat Miriam's words ("The Horse and his Rider hath He thrown into the Sea").
Six bars of recitative for tenor ("Now these arose a new King over Egypt which knew not Joseph") suffice to introduce the first part, and lead directly to the first double chorus ("And the Children of Israel sighed"), the theme of which is first given out by the altos of one choir with impressive pathos. The chorus works up to a climax of great force on the phrase ("And their Cry came up unto God"), the two choruses developing with consummate power the two principal subjects -- first, the cry for relief, the second, the burden of oppression; and closing with the phrase above mentioned, upon which they unite in simple but majestic harmony. Then follow eight more bars of recitative for tenor, and the long series of descriptive choruses begins, in which Handel employs the imitative power of music in the boldest manner. The first is the plague of the water turned to blood ("They loathed to drink of the River") -- a single chorus in fugue form, based upon a theme which is closely suggestive of the sickening sensations of the Egyptians, and increases in loathsomeness to the close, as the theme is variously treated. The next number is an aria for mezzo soprano voice ("Their Land brought forth Frogs"), the air itself serious and dignified, but the accompaniment imitative throughout of the hopping of these animals. It is followed by the plague of insects, whose afflictions are described by the double chorus. The tenors and basses in powerful unison declare ("He spake the word"), and the reply comes once from the sopranos and altos ("And there came all manner of flies"), set to a shrill, buzzing, whirring accompaniment, which increases in volume and energy as the locusts appear, but bound together solidly with the phrase of the tenors and basses frequently repeated, and presenting a sonorous background to this fancy of the composer in insect imitation. From this remarkable chorus we pass to another still more remarkable, the familiar "Hailstone Chorus" ("He gave them Hailstones for Rain"), which, like the former, is closely imitative. Before the two choirs begin the orchestra prepares the way for the on-coming storm. Drop by drop, spattering, dashing, and at last crashing, comes the storm, the gathering gloom rent with the lightning, the fire that ran along upon the ground." But the storm passes, the gloom deepens, and we are lost in vague, uncertain combination of tones where voices and instrument are seem to be groping about, comprised in the marvelously expressive chorus ("He sent a thick Darkness over all the Land"). From the oppression of this choral gloom we emerge, only to encounter a chorus of savage, unrelenting retribution ("He smote all the First-born of Egypt"). After this savage mission is accomplished, we come to a chorus in pastoral style ("But as for His people, He led them forth like Sheep"), slow, tender, serene, and lovely in its movement. The following chorus ("Egypt was glad"), usually omitted in performance, is a fugue, both strange and intricate. The next two numbers are really one. The two choruses intone the words ("He rebuked the Red Sea"), in a majestic manner, accompanied by a few massive chords, and then pass to the glorious march of the Israelites ("He led them through the deep") -- an elaborate and complicated number, but strong, forcible, and harmonious throughout, and held together by the stately opening theme which the basses ascend. It is succeeded by another graphic chorus ("But the Waters overwhelmed their Enemies"), in which the roll and dash of the billows closing over Pharaoh's host are closely imitated by the instruments, and through which in the close is heard the victorious shout of the Israelites ("There was not one of them left"). Two more short choruses -- the first ("And Israel saw that great work") and its continuation ("And believed the Lord"), written in church style, close this extraordinary chain of choral pictures.
The second part, "The Song of Moses", opens with a brief but forcible orchestral prelude, leading directly to the declaration by the chorus ("Moses and the Children of Israel sang this Song"), which, taken together with the instrumental prelude, serves as a stately introduction to the stupendous fugued chorus which follows ("I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously; the Horse and his Rider hath He thrown into the Sea"). It is followed by a duet for two sopranos ("The Lord is my Strength and my Song") in the minor key -- an intricate but melodious number, usually omitted. Once more the chorus resumes with a brief announcement ("He is my God"), followed by a fugued movement in the old church style ("And I will exalt Him"). Next follows the great duet for two basses ("The Lord is a Man of War") -- a piece of superb declamatory effect, full of vigor and stately assertion. The triumphant announcement in its closing measures ("His chosen Captains also are drowned in the Red Sea") is answered by a brief chorus ("The Depths have covered them"), followed by four choruses of triumph -- ("Thy right Hand, O Lord"), an elaborate and brilliant number; ("And in the greatness of Thine excellency"), a brief but powerful bit; ("Thou sendest forth Thy Wrath"); and the single chorus ("And with the Blast of Thy nostrils"), in the last two of which Handel again returns to the imitative style with wonderful effect, especially in the declaration of the basses ("The Floods stood upright as an Heap, and the Depths were congealed"). The only tenor aria in the oratorio follow these choruses, a bravura song ("The Enemy said, "I will pursue'"), and this is followed by the only soprano aria ("Thou didst blow with the Wind"). Two short double choruses ("Who is like unto thee, O Lord") and ("The Earth swallowed them") lead to the duet for the contralto and tenor ("Thou in Thy Mercy"), which is the minor, and very pathetic in character. It is followed by the massive and extremely difficult chorus ("The People shall hear and be afraid"). Once more, after this majestic display, comes the solo voice, this time the contralto, in a simple, lovely song ("Thou shalt bring them in"). A short double chorus ("The Lord shall reign for ever and ever"), a few bars of recitative referring to the escape of Israel, the choral outburst once more repeated, and then the solo voice declaring ("Miriam the prophetess took a trimbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances; and Miriam answered them"), lead to the final song of triumph -- that grand, jubilant, overpowering expression of victory which, beginning with the exultant strain of Miriam ("Sing ye to the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously"), is amplified by voice upon voice in the great eight-part choir, and by instrument upon instrument, until it becomes a tempest of harmony, interwoven with the triumph of Miriam's cry and the exultation of the great host over the enemy's discomfiture, and closing with the combined power of voices and instruments in harmonious accord as they once more repeat Miriam's words ("The Horse and his Rider hath He thrown into the Sea").

Series & Edition

P

ublishing Authentic Classical Concerts entails for us capturing and recording outstanding performances and concerts for posterity. The performers, audience, opus and room enter into an intimate dialogue that in its form and expression, its atmosphere, is unique and unrepeatable. It is our aim, the philosophy of our house, to enable the listener to acutely experience every facet of this symbiosis, the intensity of the performance, so we record the concerts in direct 2-Track Stereo digital HD. The results are unparalleled interpretations of musical and literary works, simply - audiophile snapshots of permanent value. Flourishing culture, enthralling the audience and last but not least also you the listener, are the values we endeavor to document in our editions and series.

The concerts at the UNESCO World Heritage Maulbronn Monastery supply the ideal conditions for our aspirations. It is, above all, the atmosphere of the romantic, candle-lit arches, the magic of the monastery in its unadulterated sublime presence and tranquillity that impresses itself upon the performers and audience of these concerts. Renowned soloists and ensembles from the international arena repeatedly welcome the opportunity to appear here - enjoying the unparalleled acoustic and architectural beauty of this World Heritage Site, providing exquisite performances of secular and sacred music, documented by us in our Maulbronn Monastery Edition.

Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler, K&K Verlagsanstalt

Review

A "Must Have"

A concert experience full of thrilling intensity ... This great-sounding concert recording is necessarily preferable to a studio production. A "must have" for all Handel lovers...

SWR 2 Culture (German Broadcasting)

Review

Superb

A superb live recording of an exciting and beautiful performance of one of the greatest and most passionate works from the Baroque era...

New Classics UK

Review

***** Excellent Music to Enjoy

It does not matter where you come from. This album will resonate and make you wonder 'why I had not come across an album like this one'. Enjoy...

'JORALE95' on eMusic.com

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