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What is your favourite of Handel's Oratorios (excluding "Messiah")?

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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The perpetual fame of the Messiah seems to have overshadowed many of the other great oratorios that Handel left behind. Many concert venues insist of performing this trusty warhorse year in year out, much to the tragic neglect of Solomon, Israel in Egypt and countless others. So I thought a thread would be in order to rectify this deficiency...

Feel free to discuss the relative merits of Handel's other oratorios, recommend recordings, and post clips/highlights.

I will also add a poll where you can vote for your favourites. (Messiah is of course disqualified). Vote for 2 or 3 if you like.
 

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I would recommend Jephtha as being on the level of Messiah. It is the last oratorio Handel wrote and is a fitting cap to a glorious career. Also Semele and Solomon are both extraordinary.

Choose Gardiner for any of them and you won't go wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When I was starting out with Handel's oratorios, I found these two box sets immensely helpful:

John Eliot Gardiner doing Israel in Egypt, Jephtha, Saul and Solomon.
Musical instrument World Hat Organism Font

and Christopher Hogwood doing Messiah, Athalia, Esther and Resurrezione.
Poster Font Hat Publication Music

Solomon is probably my favourite as it contains many joyous and jubilant choruses, e.g. "From the Censer" which kicks off Act 2:
 

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When I was starting out with Handel's oratorios, I found these two box sets immensely helpful:

John Eliot Gardiner doing Israel in Egypt, Jephtha, Saul and Solomon.
View attachment 43832

and Christopher Hogwood doing Messiah, Athalia, Esther and Resurrezione.
View attachment 43833

Solomon is probably my favourite as it contains many joyous and jubilant choruses, e.g. "From the Censer" which kicks off Act 2:
"From the Censer" could have been the inspiration for Moderation of Internet Forums 250 years later!!!

All fine sets, by the way!!
 
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At some point in the past, I have listened to Saul, Solomon, and Theodora. I can't say that any of them left any lasting impressions on me, although I should give them another listen. Can't vote here.

But I will plug another composer whose name begins with Ha, who also wrote some nice oratorios:
Haydn - The Creation, The Seasons
 

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Another vote for Israel in Egypt. Though a fine work, I think Solomon goes on too long with that stuff in the middle about dividing the baby. Personally, I put Judas Maccabeeas third on my list.
 

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I voted other for this wonderful work and in particular this recording, which I think is the only existing recording of this oratorio:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000069CUU/

This Old Testament oratorio is about Nabal (whose name means fool), a wealthy mean-spirited fellow who spurns David during David's exile from the court of Saul. David plans to have revenge upon Nabal, but Nabal's wife, Abigail, pledges loyalty to the future king, so David relents. When Nabal hears about it he drops dead, leaving Abigail free to become one of David's wives, which she is more than happy to be.
 

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I voted all of them, they are masterpieces of the 18th century. Solomon, Theodora are good starting points. :)
 

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I admit to not being a Handel fan; he just doesn't speak to me, though clearly he does to others :)
That said, I voted for Judas Maccabeus. It's on a Handel set that I have and I did enjoy it.
 

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Beyond Messiah, I am not very fond of oratorio since opera is so much better to me. Some oratorios were made because the Pope would not allow opera (see quote below), and so composers got around it with oratorios. I'd rather have them as operas.

According to this article,
... the first decade of the 18th century, when Pope Clement XI, alarmed by growing political conflicts that threatened the authority of the church, banned operatic performances in Rome, deeming musical theater dangerously arousing and incendiary. Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti and Antonio Caldara, among others, simply turned to the oratorio...
 
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Many of them were dramatic oratorios taking Biblical dramatic scenes from the Old Testament. But I get what you are saying. I prefer Operas too.
 
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Beyond Messiah, I am not very fond of oratorio since opera is so much better to me. Some oratorios were made because the Pope would not allow opera (see quote below), and so composers got around it with oratorios. I'd rather have them as operas.

According to this article,
I doubt this applied to Handel as he wrote for an English, Protestant audience. Just that his operas were out of fashion.
 
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