George Frideric Handel

Georg Frideric Handel was a German-born Baroque composer who is famous for his operas, oratorios and concerti grossi. Born as Georg Friedrich Händel in Halle, he spent most of his adult life in England, becoming a subject of the British crown on January 22, 1727. His most famous works are Messiah, an oratorio set to texts from the King James Bible; Water Music; and Music for the Royal Fireworks. Strongly influenced by the techniques of the great composers of the Italian Baroque and the English composer Henry Purcell, his music was known to many significant composers who came after him, including Haydn, Mozart, and L.v. Beethoven.

He was born as Georg Friedrich Händel in Halle in the Duchy of Magdeburg (province of Brandenburg-Prussia) to Georg and Dorothea (née Taust) Händel in 1685, the same year that both J.S. Bach and Domenico Scarlatti were born. Handel displayed considerable musical talent at an early age; by the age of seven he was a skilful performer on the harpsichord and pipe organ, and at nine he began to compose music. However, his father, a distinguished citizen of Halle and an eminent barber-surgeon who served as valet and barber to the Courts of Saxony and Brandenburg, was opposed to his son's wish to pursue a musical career, preferring him to study law. By contrast, Handel's mother, Dorothea, encouraged his musical aspirations.

Nevertheless, the young Handel was permitted to take lessons in musical composition and keyboard technique from Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, the organist of the Liebfrauenkirche, Halle. For his seventh birthday his aunt, Anna, gave him a spinet, which was placed in the attic so that Handel could play it whenever he could get away from his father.

In 1702, following his father's wishes, G.F. Handel began the study of law at the University of Halle, but after his father's death the following year, he abandoned law for music, becoming the organist at the Protestant Cathedral. In 1704, he moved to Hamburg, accepting a position as violinist and harpsichordist in the orchestra of the opera house. There, he met Johann Mattheson, Christoph Graupner and Reinhard Keiser. His first two operas, Almira and Nero, were produced in 1705. Two other early operas, Daphne and Florindo, were produced in 1708.

During 1706-1709, G.F. Handel travelled to Italy at the invitation of Gian Gastone de' Medici, and met Medici's brother Ferdinando, a musician himself. While opera was temporarily banned at this time by the Pope, Handel found work as a composer of sacred music; the famous Dixit Dominus (1707) is from this era. He wrote many cantatas in operatic style for gatherings in the palace of Pietro Ottoboni (cardinal). His Rodrigo was produced in Florence in 1707, and his Agrippina at Venice in 1709. Agrippina, which ran for an unprecedented 27 performances, showed remarkable maturity and established his reputation as an opera composer. Two oratorios, La Resurrezione and Il Trionfo del Tempo, were produced in Rome in a private setting for Ruspoli and Ottoboni in 1709 and 1710, respectively.

In 1710, G.F. Handel became Kapellmeister to George, Elector of Hanover, who would soon be King George I of Great Britain. He visited Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici on his way to London in 1710, where he settled permanently in 1712, receiving a yearly income of £200 from Queen Anne. During his early years in London, one of his most important patrons was the young and wealthy Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, who showed an early love of his music. Handel spend the most carefree time of his life at Cannons and laid the cornerstone for his future choral compositions in the twelve Chandos Anthems. Romain Rolland states that these anthems were as important for his oratorios as the cantates for his operas. He highly estimates also Acis and Galatea, like Winton Dean, who writes the music catches breath and disturbs the memory. During Handel's life time it was his most performed work.

In 1723 G.F. Handel moved into a newly built house at 25 Brook Street, London, which he rented until his death in 1759. This house is now the Handel House Museum, a restored Georgian house open to the public with an events programme of Baroque music. There is a blue commemorative plaque on the outside of the building. It was here that he composed Messiah, Zadok the Priest and Music for the Royal Fireworks.

In 1726 G.F. Handel's opera Scipio (Scipione) was performed for the first time, the march from which remains the regimental slow march of the British Grenadier Guards. He was naturalised a British subject in the following year.

In 1727 G.F. Handel was commissioned to write four anthems for the coronation ceremony of King George II. One of these, Zadok the Priest, has been played at every British coronation ceremony since. Handel was director of the Royal Academy of Music from 1720 to 1728, and a partner of J.J. Heidegger in the management of the King's Theatre from 1729 to 1734. Handel also had a long association with the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, where many of his Italian operas were premiered.

In April 1737, at age 52, he suffered a stroke or some other malady which left his right arm temporarily paralysed and stopped him from performing. He also complained of difficulties in focusing his sight. Handel went to Aix-la-Chapelle, taking hot baths and playing organ for the audience. Handel gave up operatic management entirely in 1740, after he had lost a fortune in the business.

Following his recovery, G.F. Handel focused on composing oratorios instead of opera. Handel's Messiah was first performed in New Musick Hall in Fishamble Street, Dublin on April 13, 1742, with 26 boys and five men from the combined choirs of St Patrick's and Christ Church cathedrals participating. In 1749 he composed Music for the Royal Fireworks; 12,000 people came to listen. Three people died, including one of the trumpeters on the day after.

In 1750 G.F. Handel arranged a performance of Messiah to benefit the Foundling Hospital. The performance was considered a great success and was followed by annual concerts that continued throughout his life. In recognition of his patronage, Handel was made a governor of the Hospital the day after his initial concert. He bequeathed a fair copy of Messiah to the institution upon his death. His involvement with the Foundling Hospital is today commemorated with a permanent exhibition in London's Foundling Museum, which also holds the Gerald Coke Handel Collection.

In August 1750, on a journey back from Germany to London, G.F. Handel was seriously injured in a carriage accident between The Hague and Haarlem in the Netherlands. In 1751 his eyesight started to fail in one eye. The cause was unknown and progressed into his other eye as well. He died some eight years later, in 1759, in London, his last attended performance being his own Messiah. More than three thousand mourners attended his funeral, which was given full state honours, and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

G.F. Handel never married, and kept his personal life very private. Unlike many composers, he left a sizable estate at his death - worth £20,000 (an enormous amount for the day), the bulk of which he left to a niece in Germany - as well as gifts to his other relations, servants, friends and to favourite charities.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1704-1705 Oboe Concerto No 3 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

Roger Lord - Oboe
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1707 Dixit Dominus 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Based on Psalm 110

Arleen Augér
Lynne Dawson
Diana Montague
Leigh Nixon
Simon Birchall,
Simon Preston
The Choir Of Westminster Abbey
Orchestra of Westminster Abbey

1707 Nisi Dominus 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Based on Psalm 127

Simon Preston
The Choir Of Westminster Abbey
Orchestra of Westminster Abbey

1707 Salve Regina 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Based on Psalm 127

Arleen Augér
Simon Preston
Orchestra of Westminster Abbey

1708 Il duello amoroso 4.00 stars 50 CD
Comments:

Nancy Argenta - Soprano
Freiburger Barockorchester

ca 1712 Concerto in B flat major for treble recorder, strings and continuo 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

David Munrow n- Treble Recorder
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1717 Water Music (Complete) 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

Koninklijk Concertgebouw Orkest cond. Eduard van Beinum

1717 Water Music (3 Suites) 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1717 Water Music (3 Suites) 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1718-1718 Chandos Anthems 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

- The Lord is my Light
- As Pants the Hart

April Cantelo - Soprano
Ian Partridge- Tenor

Cambridge King's College Choir
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. David Willocks

1717-1718 Chandos Anthems (Complete 1 - 11) 4.00 stars 4 CD
Comments:

Chandos Anthem No. 1 'O, be joyful in the Lord', HWV 246
Chandos Anthem No. 2 'In the Lord put I my trust', HWV 247
Chandos Anthem No. 3 'Have mercy upon me', HWV 248
Chandos Anthem No. 4 'O sing unto the Lord new song', HWV 249b
Chandos Anthem No. 5 'I will magnify Thee', HWV 250a
Chandos Anthem No. 6 'As pants the hart of cooling streams', HWV 251b
Chandos Anthem No. 7 'My song shall be always', HWV 252
Chandos Anthem No. 8 'O come let us sing unto the Lord', HWV 253
Chandos Anthem No. 9 ' O praise the Lord with one consent', HWV 254
Chandos Anthem No. 10 'The Lord is my light', HWV 255
Chandos Anthem No. 11 'Let God arise', HWV 256a

Lynne Dawson - Soprano
Partizia Kwella - Soprano
James Bowman - Tenor
Ian Partridge - Tenor
Michael George - Bass

The Sixteen Choir & Orchestra, Harry Christophers

1718 Acis and Galatea 4.00 stars DVD-R
Comments:

Daniele Deniese,
Charles Workman,
Royal Opera Extra Choir,
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightment
cond. Christopher Hogwood

Recorded from public TV

1719 Brockes Passion HWV 48 4.00 stars 3 LP
Comments:

Maria Stader
Edda Moser
Paul Esswood
Ernst Haefliger
Jerry J Jennings
Theo Adam
Jacob Stämpfli

Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Regensburger Domchor cond. August Wenzinger

1724 Giulio Cesare 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Synopsis

Like most of his other operas, Handel made several revisions to the score of Giulio Cesare for revivals, adding new arias and cutting others. The aria listing in this synopsis applies to the original 1724 version.

Overture

As typical of most Handel operas, but unlike most other Italian operas by other composers, Giulio Cesare opens with a French-type overture.

Act 1

After the overture, the entire cast, except Giulio Cesare, gathers on stage for the opening chorus. (Chorus: Viva, viva il nostro Alcide). Giulio Cesare and his victorious troops arrive on the banks of the River Nile after defeating Pompeo's forces. (Aria: Presti omai l'Egizia terra). Pompeo's second wife, Cornelia, begs for mercy for her husband's life. Cesare agrees, but on the condition that Pompeo must see him in person. Achilla, the leader of the Egyptian army, presents Cesare with a casket containing Pompeo's head. It is a token of support from Tolomeo, the co-ruler of Egypt (together with Cleopatra, his sister). Cornelia faints, and Cesare is furious about Tolomeo's cruelty. (Aria: Empio, dirò, tu sei). Cesare's assistant, Curio, offers to avenge Cornelia, hoping that she will fall for him and marry him. Cornelia rejects the offer in grief, saying that another death would not relieve her pain. (Aria: Priva, son d'ogni conforto). Sesto, son of Cornelia and Pompeo, swears to take revenge for his father's death. (Aria: Svegliatevi nel core). Cleopatra decides to use her charm to seduce Cesare. (Aria: Non disperar, chi sà?) Achilla brings the news to Tolomeo that Cesare was furious over the murder of Pompeo. Tolomeo swears to kill Cesare to protect his rule of the kingdom. (Aria: L'empio, sleale, indegno). Cleopatra (in disguise) goes to meet Cesare in his camp hoping that he will support her as the queen of Egypt. Cesare is amazed by her beauty. (Aria: Non è si vago e bello). Nireno notes that the seduction was successful. (Aria: Tutto può donna vezzosa). Meanwhile, Cornelia continues to mourn the loss of her husband. (Arioso: Nel tuo seno, amico sasso). Cornelia prepares to kill Tolomeo to avenge Pompeo's death, but is stopped by Sesto, who promises to do it instead. Cesare, Cornelia and Sesto go to the Egyptian palace to meet Tolomeo. (Aria: Cara speme, questo core). Cleopatra now believes that having turned Cesare, Cornelia and Sesto against Tolomeo successfully, the scales are tipped in her favour. (Aria: Tu la mia stella sei). Cesare meets Tolomeo, who offers him a room in the royal apartments, though Cesare tells Curio that he expects Tolomeo to betray him. (Aria: Va tacito e nascosto). Tolomeo is fascinated by Cornelia's beauty but has promised Achilla that he could have her. (Aria: Tu sei il cor di questo core). Sesto attempts to challenge Tolomeo, but is unsuccessful. When Cornelia rejects Achilla, he orders the soldiers to arrest Sesto. (Duet: Son nata a lagrimar).

Act 2

In Cleopatra's palace, while in disguise as "Lidia", she uses her charms to seduce Cesare. (Aria: V'adoro, pupille). She sings praises of Cupid's darts and Cesare is delighted. Cesare is smitten with Cleopatra, and Nireno tells Cesare that "Lidia" is waiting for him. (Aria: Se in fiorito ameno prato). In Tolomeo's palace, Cornelia laments her fate. (Arioso: Deh piangete, oh mesti lumi). Achilla pleads with Cornelia to accept him, but she rejects him. (Aria: Se a me non sei crudele) When he leaves, Tolomeo also tries to win her, but is also rejected. (Aria: Sì spietata, il tuo rigore). Thinking that there is no hope, Cornelia tries to take her own life, but is stopped by Sesto, who is escorted by Nireno. Nireno reveals the bad news that Tolomeo has given orders for Cornelia to be sent to his harem. However, Nireno also comes up with a plan to sneak Sesto into the harem together with Cornelia, so Sesto can kill Tolomeo when he is alone and unarmed. (Aria: Cessa omai di sospirare). Sesto enters the garden of the palace, wishing to fight Tolomeo for killing his father. (Aria: L'angue offeso mai riposa). Meanwhile, Cleopatra waits for Cesare to arrive in her palace. (Aria: Venere bella). Still smitten with her, Cesare arrives in Cleopatra's palace. However, Curio suddenly bursts in and warns Cesare that he has been betrayed, and enemies are approaching Cesare's chambers and chanting "Death to Cesare". Cleopatra reveals her identity and after hearing the enemies heading for them, asks Cesare to flee, but he decides to fight. (Aria: Al lampo dell'armi). (Chorus: Morà, Cesare morà). Cleopatra, having falling in love with Cesare, begs the gods to bless him. (Aria: Se pietà di me non senti). In Tolomeo's palace, Tolomeo prepares to enter his harem. (Arioso: Belle dee di questo core). As Tolomeo tries to seduce Cornelia, Sesto rushes in to kill Tolomeo, but is stopped by Achilla. Achilla announces that Cesare (in the attempt to run from soldiers) has jumped from the palace window and died. Achilla asks again for Cornelia's hand in marriage but is turned down by Tolomeo. Furious, Achilla leaves. Sesto feels devastated and attempts to kill himself but is prevented from doing so by his mother; he repeats his vow to kill Tolomeo. (Aria: L'aure che spira).

Act 3

Furious at Tolomeo for being ungrateful to him despite his loyalty, Achilla plans to defect to Cleopatra's side (Aria: Dal fulgor di questa spada), but Tolomeo stabs him before he does. As battle rings out between Tolomeo's and Cleopatra's armies, Tolomeo celebrates his apparent victory against Cleopatra (Aria: Domerò la tua fierezza). Cleopatra laments losing both the battle and Cesare (Aria: Piangerò la sorte mia). However, Cesare is not dead: he survived his leap and is roaming the desert in search of his troops (Aria: Aure, deh, per pietà). While looking for Tolomeo, Sesto finds the wounded, nearly dead Achilla, who hands Sesto a seal authorizing him to command his armies. Cesare appears and demands the seal, promising that he will either save both Cornelia and Cleopatra or die (Aria: Quel torrente, che cade dal monte). With Cesare alive and Achilla dead, Sesto's spirits lift, and he vows to fight on (Aria: La giustizia ha già sull'arco). Cesare continues on to Cleopatra's camp, where a lamenting Cleopatra is overjoyed to see him. (Aria: Da tempeste il legno infranto).

In the palace, Sesto finds Tolomeo trying to rape Cornelia and kills him. Having successfully avenged Pompeo, Cornelia and Sesto celebrate Tolomeo's death. (Aria: Non ha più che temere). The victorious Cesare and Cleopatra enter Alexandria, and Cesare proclaims Cleopatra to be queen of Egypt and promises his support to her and her country. They declare their love for each other (Duet: Caro! Bella! Più amabile beltà). Cesare then proclaims Egypt's liberation from tyranny, and wishes for the glory of Rome to spread far and wide. For the final chorus, the entire cast (including the dead Achilla and Tolomeo) gathers on stage to celebrate the power of love and the triumph of good over evil (Chorus: Ritorni omai nel nostro core).

Marijana Mijanovic
Anne Sofie von Otter
Charlotte Hellekant
Jean-Michel Ankaoua
Alan Ewing
Guido Larisch
Michel Maldonado
Pascal Monteilhet
Jory Vinikour
Mirella Giardelli
Les Musiciens du Louvre cond. Marc Minkowski

1727 Coronation Anthems 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

- Zadok the Priest
- Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened
- The King Shall Rejoice
- My Heart is Inditing

The Choir Of Westminster Abbey
The English Concert
Simon Preston
cond. Trevor Pinnock,

1730 Sonatas for Flute 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Opus 374 - Opus 379

William Bennett
Nicholas Kraemer
Denis Vigay
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble

1699?-1733 Trio Sonatas 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Opus 2 No 1-6

William Bennett
Trevor Wye
George Malcolm
Denis Vigay
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble

1720-1733 Suite 1 and 2 for Harpsicord 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

Played on an original instument, owned by Handel

Christopher Wood - Harpsicord

1710-1734 Concerto Grossi Opus 3 (Complete) 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Solists
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1735-1736 Organ Concerts Opus 4 No 1, No 2. No 3, No 4 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

Marie-Claire Alain - Organ
Chamber Orchestra Jean-Francois Pallaird

1735-1736 Organ Concerts Opus 4 No 5, No 6 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

Marie-Claire Alain - Organ
Chamber Orchestra Jean-Francois Pallaird

1735-1736 Organ Concertos Opus 4 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:

Ton Koopman - Organ
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra

1735-1736 Organ Concertos Opus 4 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

George Malcolm - Organ
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1739 Ode for St. Cecilia's Day 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Felicity Lott
The English Concert Choir
The English Concert

1739 Organ Concerto in F "The Cuckoo and the Nightingale" 4.00 stars 10" LP
Comments:

E. Power Biggs - Organ
London Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Adrian Boult

1739 Israel in Egypt 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Susan Gritton
Alastair Ross
James Vivian
Angela East,
The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Stephen Cleobury
The Brandenburg Consort cond. Roy Goodman,

1740 Organ Concerto No 13, No 14, No 15, No 16 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

Marie-Claire Alain - Organ
Chamber Orchestra Jean-Francois Pallaird

1740 Organ Concerto No 13, No 14, No 15, No 16 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

George Malcolm - Organ
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1740 Concerto Grosso Opus 6 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

On this LP:
No 9, No 10, No 12

I Musici

1740 Oboe Concert No 1 and 2 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Roger Lord - Oboe
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1740 Concerto Grosso Opus 6 4.00 stars 50 CD
Comments:

On this CD:
No 6

Freiburger Barockorchester

1740 Concerto Grosso Opus 6 (Complete) 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Solists
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1742 Messiah 4.00 stars 3 LP 2 CD


Comments:
Part I
The Messiah's coming and the Virgin Birth are predicted by the Old Testament prophets. The annunciation to the shepherds of the birth of the Christ is represented in the words of St Luke's Gospel.

Part II
Covers Christ's Passion and his death, his Resurrection and Ascension, the first spreading of the Gospel through the world, and a definitive statement of God's glory summarised in the "Hallelujah".

Part III
Begins with the promise of Redemption, followed by a prediction of the Day of Judgment and the "general Resurrection", ending with the final victory over sin and death and the acclamation of Christ. According to the musicologist Donald Burrows, much of the text is so allusive as to be largely incomprehensible to those ignorant of the biblical accounts. For the benefit of his audiences, Jennens printed and issued a pamphlet explaining the reasons for his choices of scriptural selections.

Heather Harper
Helen Watts
John Wakefield
John Shirley-Quirk

London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra cond. Colin Davis

1742 Messiah 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:

Arleen Auger
Anne Sofie Von Otter
Michael Chance
Howard Crook
John Tomlinson

The English Concert and Choir cond. Trevor Pinnock

1742 Messiah 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Elly Ameling
Anna Reynolds
Philip Langridge
Gwynne Howell

Academy ans Chorus of St Martin in the Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1740-1743 Organ Concerts Opus 7 No 1, No 2 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

Marie-Claire Alain - Organ
Chamber Orchestra Jean-Francois Pallaird

1743 Dettingen Te Deum / Anthem 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Christopher Tipping
The English Concert
Simon Preston
The Choir Of Westminster Abbey cond. Trevor Pinnock

1745 Hercules 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Synopsis

Act I

The court laments the inconsolable grief of Dejanira, who is convinced that her husband, Hercules, has been killed whilst on a military expedition that has kept him absent from her. Once consulted, the oracles indicate that the hero is dead and the summits of Oeta are ablaze with fire. The prophecy confirms Dejanira's fears; however, their son, Hyllus, refuses to give up hope. As the latter prepares to set out in search of his father, Lichas arrives and announces that Hercules has returned alive after conquering Oechalia. Among the captives is the princess Iole of legendary beauty. Her predicament leaves Hyllus deeply moved. Despite having ravaged her country and sacrificed her father, Hercules reassures Iole that even though in exile, she may consider herself free.

Act II

Iole is seized by a yearning desire for a simple, humble form of happiness far removed from the machinations of power. Meanwhile, Dejanira, convinced that Hercules has been unfaithful to her, considers Iole's beauty as proof of his betrayal, even though her suspicions are resolutely refuted by her supposed rival. Lichas, too, observes the unstoppable progression of Dejanira's jealousy. Hyllus, for his part, having declared his love to the captive princess, suffers the agony of her rejection. While Hercules is summoned to celebrate the rites of his victory, Dejanira gives Lichas a garment for her husband as a token of reconciliation. The blood-soaked cloak, entrusted to her by Nessus as he lay dying defeated by Hercules, is apparently endowed with the power to lead a heart back to faithfulness. Meanwhile, Dejanira takes great pains to convince Iole that she regrets her accusations.

Act III

Lichas recounts how Hercules receives Dejanira's gift at the Temple and how the cloak is impregnated with a deadly poison. As his son watches on, the hero, undefeated until now, dies in appalling suffering and cursing Dejanira's vengeance. The last wishes expressed by the father to his son—that he be carried to the summit of Mount Oeta and set upon a funeral pyre—throw a belated light on the meaning of the oracle of the first act. Dejanira is informed of the glorious reception given to Hercules on Olympus. Discovering that she has been the instrument of his death, Dejanira sinks into madness. Such misfortune arouses the pity of Iole. Jove ordains the marriage between Hyllus and Iole, a decree that is received with joy by Hyllus and obedience by Iole.

Peter Savidge
The Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists, cond. John Eliot Gardiner,

1747 Judas Maccabaeus 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Synopsis

Morell's libretto is based on the deuterocanonical 1 Maccabees (2–8), with motives added from the Antiquitates Judaicae by Flavius Josephus.

The events depicted in the oratorio are from the period 170–160 BC when Judea was ruled by the Seleucid Empire which undertook to destroy the Jewish religion. Being ordered to worship Zeus, many Jews obeyed under the threat of persecution; however, some did not. One who defied was the elderly priest Mattathias who killed a fellow Jew who was about to offer a pagan sacrifice. After tearing down a pagan altar, Mattathias retreated to the hills and gathered others who were willing to fight for their faith.

Handel's music depicts the changing moods of the Jewish people as their fortunes vary from dejection to jubilation.

Part 1

The people mourn the death of their leader Mattathias, but his son Simon tries to restore their faith and calls them to arms (Arm, arm, ye brave). Simon's brother (Judas Maccabaeus) assumes the role of leader and inspires the people with thoughts of liberty and victory through the power of Jehovah.

Part 2

The people have been victorious, but Judas is concerned that vanity will cause the people to claim victory for themselves. When news arrives that the Seleucid commander Gorgias is preparing to enact revenge, the people's joyous mood gives way to wailing and dejection (Ah! wretched Israel!). Again Judas rallies the people (Sound an alarm) and insists that the pagan altars must be destroyed and that false religions must be resisted.

Part 3

Victory has finally been achieved for the Jewish people (See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes!). News arrives that Rome is willing to form an alliance with Judas against the Seleucid empire. The people rejoice that peace has at last come to their country (O lovely peace).

Felicity Palmer
Janet Baker
John Shirley-Quirk
Christopher Keyte
English Chamber Orchestra cond. Charles Mackerras
Wandsworth School Boys Choir dond. Russell Burgess

1747-1748 Concerto a Due Cori No 1, No 2, No 3 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

The Academy of Ancient Music cond. Christopher Hogwood

1749 Solomon 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

Synopsis

Act 1

The work begins with Solomon and his people celebrating the consecration of the Temple he has built in Jerusalem.Solomon rejoices in his married happiness to his one wife (unlike the biblical Solomon, who is stated to have had hundreds of wives and concubines), and promises to build his queen a palace for her. They express their love for each other and retire for the night as flower-scented breezes and nightingales' songs lull them to rest.

Act 2

The wisdom of Solomon is presented in the famous biblical story of the two harlots who each claimed a baby as her own. Solomon offers to solve the case by splitting the infant in half with his sword but the real mother rejects this solution and offers to hand the child over to the other woman, as Solomon knew the true parent would do. The First Harlot and the chorus praise Solomon's judgement.

Act 3

In Act Three we see a state visit from the Queen of Sheba to Solomon's kingdom. The king and his people entertain her with a musical masque of magnificent choruses depicting in turn the "lulling" sound of gentle music, the desire for military glory, the despair of an unhappy lover, and a storm which turns to calm. All celebrate the Israel of the wise ruler Solomon as a Golden Age of peace, happiness, and prosperity.

Paul Agnew
Susan Bickley
Alison Hagley
Andreas Scholl
Paul McCreesh
Gabrieli Consort
Gabrieli Players

1749 Music for the Royal Fireworks (Suite) 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1749 Music for the Royal Fireworks (Suite) 30 CD
Comments:

Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1740-1751 Organ Concerto Opus 7 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:

Ton Koopman - Organ
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra

1740-1751 Organ Concerto Opus 7 4.00 stars 30 CD
Comments:

George Malcolm - Organ
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1751 Organ Concerto Opus 7 No 3 in Bes 4.00 stars 10" LP
Comments:

E. Power Biggs - Organ
London Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Adrian Boult

Compilation Overtures 4.00 stars LP
Comments:

- Lotario
- Esther
- Admeto
- Alcina
- Orlando
- Poro
- Partenope
- Ottone

English Chamber Orchestra cond. Raymond Leppard