Jürgen Budday

Händel: Joshua

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AllMusic Review by

Germany's K&K label has released a series of live performances of music from various periods,, held at the Maulbronn Monastery complex in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg. This vast group of monastery buildings, a UNESCO heritage site, is manifestly better suited to some kinds of music than to others, but the concerts mostly have had a sense of excitement that the recording engineers have done well in picking up. This performance of Handel's late oratorio Joshua apparently pleased the crowd on-site, but its virtues are less apparent to the CD listener. The chief problem lies with the choral forces of the Maulbronner Kammerchor under conductor Jürgen Budday. It's a good thing that an English text is included (albeit in evil yellow print on blue background), for the choirs' diction is both poor and heavily accented; even native anglophones won't have a prayer of understanding the words of the choruses without the printed text. The climax of the work, the great patriotic chorus "See the conqu'ring hero comes! (CD 2, track 23) is ridiculous, with a treacly quality in the opening youth-chorus section giving way to lumbering Wagnerianisms that hardly deliver the promised historically oriented performance. The four soloists, all English speakers, are better, but the slow pace of the whole makes it hard for them to catch fire. The detailed instrumental work of the Hannoversche Hofkapelle is impressive, and there are fine moments among the solo airs, such as the restrained yet quite arresting "Shall I in Mamre's fertile plain..." from bass James Rutherford as Caleb (CD 2, track 17), but with several strong English versions of this oratorio on the market there's little reason to bother with this one. It's supposed to be a stirring crowd-pleaser, and it just doesn't have that effect here.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Joshua, oratorio, HWV 64
1
1:38
2
4:17
3
1:11
4
2:45
5
0:28
6
5:15
7
0:48
8
2:25
9
0:59
10
4:44
11
0:52
12
3:07
13
0:40
14
1:17
15
0:16
16
2:39
17
2:22
18
3:10
19
1:01
20
5:55
21
0:57
22
3:23
23
0:41
24
1:44
25
0:29
26
1:54
27
5:45
28
0:40
29
3:25
30
4:21
31
0:26
32
2:33

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Joshua, oratorio, HWV 64
1
0:55
2
3:12
3
0:25
4
3:22
5
0:28
6
4:15
7
0:28
8
2:37
9
1:43
10
2:42
11
0:54
12
0:35
13
3:06
14
3:54
15
2:59
16
2:21
17
2:54
18
2:25
19
1:21
20
1:53
21
2:53
22
0:48
23
3:03
24
1:04
25
2:33
26
0:20
27
3:00
28
0:40
29
3:11
blue highlight denotes track pick