Joachim Carlos Martini

John Christopher Smith: Tobit - Oratorio after Handel

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AllMusic Review by

The big "Handel" at the top of the front cover may occasion confusion in the mind of the listener who can't remember any Handel oratorio called Tobit (or Tobias). That's because the work is a pastiche of Handel's music, fitted with new words and arranged into a facsimile of a coherent story drawn from the Book of Tobias in the Bible. The creator was John Christopher Smith, the son of a German copyist and longtime associate of Handel born Johann Christoph Schmidt who anglicized his name when he went to work for Handel in London. The tunes are drawn from a variety of lesser Handel oratorios (none is from Messiah or Judas Maccabeus), with recitatives written by Smith himself and various holes filled in with new music by the conductor of the present recording, Joachim Carlos Martini. The Junge Kantorei shows itself to be one of the profusion of regional German choirs with a startlingly warm sound and well-honed ensemble, and the Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra is smooth and ingratiating. The singers, especially tenor Knut Schoch as Tobit, betray little in the way of non-English accents and have a fine mastery of the bright, public Handelian oratorio style. The only fly in the ointment is the work itself, which is certainly of interest to those fascinated by the question of how Handel got from King George to your local bunch of Christian teens who put synthesized beats to Messiah every Christmas. But the work is a footnote to Handel, not Handel undiluted. "It will be seen," writes annotator Keith Anderson, "that the oratorio expects some previous knowledge of the story, as a number of elements in the original narrative are omitted." Which is another way of saying that this large work doesn't really hang together. Texts are available on the Naxos website, and the singers involved offer decent intelligibility.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Tobit, oratorio (after Handel)
1 05:02 Amazon
2 00:14 Amazon
3 01:53 Amazon
4 00:50 Amazon
5 04:58 Amazon
6 00:27 Amazon
7 02:17 Amazon
8 00:42
9 04:42
10 00:26 Amazon
11 07:39 Amazon
12 02:50 Amazon
13 00:49 Amazon
14 01:18 Amazon
15 02:35 Amazon
16 00:38 Amazon
17 03:11 Amazon
18 02:56 Amazon
19 00:38 Amazon
20 01:55 Amazon
21 01:25 Amazon
22 00:40 Amazon
23 08:54 Amazon
24 03:03 Amazon
25 00:45 Amazon
26 01:51 Amazon
27 00:32 Amazon
28 00:51 Amazon
29 07:41 Amazon
30 00:32 Amazon
31 02:37 Amazon
32 00:21 Amazon
33 00:51 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Tobit, oratorio (after Handel)
1 04:57
2 05:43
3 03:48
4 03:09
5 00:56
6 04:54
7 00:39
8 00:20
9 04:26
10 02:27
11 03:13
12 00:43
13 00:36
14 02:20
15 02:41
16 01:39
17 00:17
18 00:31
19 04:03
20 03:28
21 01:24
22 04:06
23 05:03
24 01:32
25 00:28
26 03:21
27 02:38
28 00:21
29 01:24
30 02:01
31 02:38
32 00:39
33 03:17
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