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Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Christopher Purves, bass
Mark Le Brocq, tenor
James Rutherford, nass
Miriam Allan, soprano
Michael Chance, altus
Nancy Argenta, soprano
Stephen Varcoe, bass
Melinda Paulsen, mezzo-soprano
Sinéad Pratschke, soprano
Catherine King, mezzo-soprano
Charles Humphries, altus
Maulbronn Chamber Choir
Hanoverian Court Orchestra
Jürgen Budday, conductor
For more than ten years now, we have been documenting the concerts in the Maulbronn Monastery. Among the many wonderful recordings that we have in the meantime released in this series, the performances of the oratorios composed by the man born as Georg Friedrich Handel are a real treasure. To have produced the greatest works of a composer in performance, in the same space, with the unmistakable hallmark of the conductor and with more or less the same choir, soloists and orchestra is something that I find impossible to write about in retrospective at the moment, given the challenges that were involved and the simple fact that the end of this series is not yet in sight. May our future recordings be many and just as successfull.
What is the fascination of the oratorios? Old music - it often attracts the wrong sort of clichés. Terms like tension, power, drama and virtuosity are simply not used as synonyms for works of this genre. But it is precisely factors like these that have induced us to preserve the oratorios for posterity, and in all their authenticity - as concerts.
Georg Friedrich Handel knew how to bewitch an audience, how to make it tremble - then as now. It was no different even for Haydn. Let me illustrate this with an anecdote: the fall of Jericho in Act II of the oratorio "Joshua" inspired Handel to compose one of his most magnificent "thunder choruses", and this Haydn experienced in person at a grandiose performance in Westminster Abbey in 1791. It made a huge impression on him. Haydn was supposedly familiar with the music, yet only half aware of its effect until he actually got to hear it. In any case, Haydn was convinced that only a genius like Handel could ever have written such an outstanding composition or, indeed, anything like it at any point in the future ...
Back then, people still had time - there were no distractions like television, radio or the Internet to overwhelm them. And yet Haydn still had great difficulty appreciating the true greatness and power of an oratorio properly. This power, this drama is the idea, the underlying concept of our retrospective. To create a cross-section - an interim balance, if you will - that brings you closer to the world of Handel's oratorios and the world of old music. We couldn't get the thunder choruses of Jericho out of our minds. So, working with Jurgen Budday, we have put together the most moving of the choruses, arias and orchestral sections of the oratorios. The essence is a cross-section of the most beautiful and powerful moments from eight oratorios about the heroes and kings of the Old Testament: The Power of Handel.
Live recordings of concerts at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery, produced 1998-2008.
Producers: Josef-Stefan Kindler and Andreas Otto Grimminger
Recording and mastering engineer: Andreas Otto Grimminger