John Eliot Gardiner / Ton Koopman

George Frideric Handel: Semele; Israel in Egypt; The Ways of Zion Do Mourn; Zadok the Priest; La Resurrezione; Dixit

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For opera fans, the major attraction in this six-disc set dedicated to the works of Handel will likely be the 1981 recording of his English-language opera Semele, with John Eliot Gardiner leading a strong cast of singers. While there may have been more compelling Semeles than Norma Burrowes (whose interpretation is nevertheless very sensitive), the remainder of the cast is consistently excellent, especially Anthony Rolfe Johnson's commanding portrayal of Jupiter. For oratorio fans, the attractions will likely be the three-part oratorio Israel in Egypt, the funeral anthem The Ways of Zion do Mourn, and the coronation anthem Zadok the Priest, all with Gardiner leading the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra in performances of great weight and seriousness, recorded between 1976 and 1978. The concluding two discs include an angular but expressive 1990 account of Handel's early Italian oratorio La Resurrezione, with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, as well as a muscular performance of the Dixit Dominus from 1977, with Gardiner and the Monteverdi forces. The earlier stereo Gardiner choral recordings sound heavier and fuller than the more vivid recording of Semele, but they all sound dowdy compared with the light and air-filled digital recording of La Resurrezione. The set should be of strong interest to dedicated Handel fans.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Semele, oratorio, HWV 58
1
7:17
2
1:46
3
4:38
4
3:53
5
3:23
6
3:04
7
0:33
8
0:56
9
3:07
10
1:48
11
2:06
12
2:51
13
1:45
14
1:59
15
6:49
16
3:38
17
6:29
18
3:26
19
3:31
20
3:28
21
4:46
22
4:15
23
2:27

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Semele, oratorio, HWV 58
1
0:29
2
5:55
3
2:54
4
1:57
5
2:46
6
2:25
7
4:32
8
4:14
9
2:17
10
2:52
11
1:38
12
8:07
13
1:21
14
3:14
15
2:51
16
3:10
17
1:13
18
5:11
19
3:21
20
2:26
21
3:22
22
4:11
23
2:32
24
3:10

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Israel in Egypt, oratorio, HWV 54
1
2:14
2
0:25
3
3:55
4
0:34
5
2:17
6
2:16
7
2:08
8
2:13
9
3:18
10
2:27
11
4:09
12
3:03
13
0:47
14
1:24
15
1:05
16
0:57
17
3:42
18
0:57
19
2:37
20
4:35
21
0:51
22
2:55
23
5:46
24
2:49
25
1:27
26
0:37
27
2:02
28
3:01
29
2:26
30
2:24

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Israel in Egypt, oratorio, HWV 54
1
1:36
2
1:12
3
4:25
4
7:33
5
3:54
6
0:41
7
0:26
8
0:41
9
0:22
10
3:34
The Ways of Zion Do Mourn (Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline), for chorus & orchestra, HWV 264
11
2:05
12
6:32
13
2:35
14
2:48
15
3:21
16
0:55
17
5:50
18
0:55
19
4:04
20
5:05
21
2:06
22
3:52
23
3:51
24
7:02

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
La Resurrezione, oratorio, HWV 47
1
3:21
2
5:19
3
1:22
4
4:03
5
0:56
6
0:54
7
2:37
8
1:36
9
3:11
10
0:46
11
6:15
12
1:05
13
2:29
14
1:52
15
3:29
16
1:40
17
3:54
18
1:02
19
5:20
20
1:18
21
3:44
22
0:55
23
2:32
24
1:26
25
2:35
26
1:25
27
0:43
28
4:40
29
0:24
30
3:47
31
1:05
32
0:48
33
1:43
34
0:35
35
0:36

Track Listing - Disc 6

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
La Resurrezione, oratorio, HWV 47
1
0:50
2
6:23
3
0:43
4
3:36
5
1:21
6
3:13
7
0:47
8
3:18
9
0:22
10
2:46
11
1:11
12
4:21
13
1:21
14
3:52
15
0:24
16
2:06
Dixit Dominus, hymn for soloists, chorus & orchestra in G minor, HWV 232
17
6:13
18
3:14
19
3:03
20
2:40
21
1:32
22
7:21
23
4:13
24
6:34
blue highlight denotes track pick