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

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I doubt this applied to Handel as he wrote for an English, Protestant audience. Just that his operas were out of fashion.
Great point considering the thread is about Handel oratorios.
 

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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.
I posted this three years ago. My view hasn't changed. Mr. Consistency!!! :)
 

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It's been a long time I haven't listened to Handel Oratorios but they are my favourite vocal works of Handel, even over his operas. My vote was for Israel in Egypt but I also love Samson and Solomon. If I must specify other oratorios, I would say Joseph and his Brethren (HWV 59) and Alexander Balus (HWV 65). Regarding recordings, my favourite performers are The King's Consort and Robert King, McCreesh and The Sixteen. Some of the recordings I own:

Solomon - McCreesh


Israel in Egypt - Parrott


Alexander Balus - King


Theodora - McCreesh


Samson - The Sixteen


I will be listening them again this weekend.
 

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^Those look like and are wonderful recordings. I have listened to the McCreesh ones above. :)
 

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For me, the choice would be between Samson, Saul, and Israel in Egypt. I like Solomon, La Resurrezione, and Theodora too. But since Samson has one of Handel's most inspired creations--"Awake the trumpets lofty sound", I'm going to choose Samson (although there may be other Handel oratorios that are more consistent overall). The recording that I enjoy is Nicholas McGegan's on Carus:

https://www.amazon.com/Handel-G-F-S...2092193&sr=8-1&keywords=samson+handel+mcgegan

Otherwise, my favorite conductors in Handel's oratorios are Paul McCreesh (Messiah, Solomon, Saul, Theodora), Rene Jacobs (Saul), John Eliot Gardiner (Israel in Egypt, Solomon, The Ways of Zion do mourn, Alexander's Feast), Marc Minkowski (La Resurrezione, & Teseo--but that's an opera), Christopher Hogwood (La Resurrezione, Messiah, Athalia), Andrew Parrott (Israel in Egypt), and Trevor Pinnock (Belshazzar).

Due to this thread, I now realize I don't know Jephtha--so I'll have to remedy that. I've also not heard Esther, Semele, Hercules, Acis and Galatea, and Judas Maccabaeus. It's amazing that after all these years of listening to Handel, there's still so much music I've yet to get to!!
 

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Judas Maccabeus for me.
 

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Israel in Egypt is very different from most of the other Handel oratorios in that it is highly choral (Part II, which we often perform as Part I has ONE aria), which actually didn't go over well at the time and the next time that he performed it, he interpolated arias from his various other works to satisfy the audience's desire for florid solo writing. That being said, the depictions of the plagues are some of the most vivid word painting you'll ever hear from both the chorus and orchestra, especially the "fliessss and liccccce in all their quartersssss" with the itchily buzzing violins underneath.

My personal favorite of his, though, is Samson. A dramatic story, a cast of fairly interesting characters (for Baroque standards, at least) and both bravura and very tender writing for all parts. There aren't many recordings of the complete work, but Harry Christophers not only does the whole thing, but his cast is excellent, especially Lynda Russell, Lynne Dawson, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, and Mark Padmore.

I've actually had the good fortune to perform both of these pieces with Harry Christophers in Boston, as well as a few Messiahs, and will never forget any of them!
 

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i like il trionfono del tempo especially part 1 13 Aria (Bellezza)- Un pensiero nemico di piace
cecilia bartoli does a really good version of it. its over the top though i can only listen to it once in awhile.

 

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At one time in my life I tried to collect all of Handel's oratorios and was fairly successful, although they are in record format.
I am not repeating my desire to collect all of them on CD.
I pretty much stick with Messiah. For other biblical oratorios I go with Mendelssohn's Elijah and Haydn's Creation.
 

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I recently made playlists of all of Handel's oratorios and operas. Except for a few they were all on Spotify, and all but a few had at least two, most with more, recordings. I am making my way through them.

Fantastic body of work.
 

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Of those that I'm familiar with, I would rank Semele and Saul first (with Messiah) but also enjoy Theodora. The voting for these on this thread is relatively more even than other voting threads - not surprising considering the high level of most of these compositions.

Semele feels very different than the others - basically an opera in oratorio form. Unlike most of the other oratorios this is definitely not on a religious theme - rather opposite actually - basically a sex romp between Jupiter and a woman - but the music is glorious: "Endless Pleasure", Where'ere you walk", "The heavenly sphere turns round" etc. The new Gardiner recording is very good.

Saul has a number of excellent recordings. My favorite is probably the McCreesh recording simply because Andreas Scholl is the best David I have ever heard - even though Handel actually cast a female Mezzo as David rather than a male counter-tenor. Harry Christopher's recording of Saul might be preferable for other aspects - but Scholl's performance keeps McCreesh at the top of my playlist.

I wish I was more familiar with Judas Maccabeus and Jeptha - next on the list!
 

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I picked Israel in Egypt but here is a minority opinion: The Occasional Oratorio. It was together in a hurry, but it’s a total gas. Picking all the bits and pieces of earlier works is great fun. It’s also a fine demonstration of Handel’s genius, that he could make someone magnificent out of such material.
 
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