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Handel - Joshua

Miriam Allan – Soprano
David Allsopp – Countertenor
Mark LeBrocq – Tenor
James Rutherford – Bass

Hanoverarian Court Orchestra, Maulbronn Chamber Choir/Juergen Budday

K & K Verllaganstalt  – KuK 07 [May 2007 – 147 minutes]

The latest in Maulbronn’s in on-going sequence of Handel’s oratorios is Joshua, a deservedly popular work which balances the bravura of military victory with intimacies of domestic life.  Joshua himself, sung with distinction by Mark LeBrocq, may be an intrepid general, but he is too sure of his own invincibility to be likeable, and Handel gives him a string of rather pompous sounding arias, with the admiring chorus joining in. 

Elder statesman Caleb is a far more complex character, and James Rutherford extracts full descriptive value from his contrasting arias, See, the raging flames arise in the heat of the battle and the reflective Shall I in Mamre’s fertile plain

The lovers, Othniel and Achsah (David Allsopp and Miriam Allan) enjoy two gentle love scenes, and share two fine duets.   Achsah is the really lucky one who gets to sing both the showpiece Oh! Had I Jubal’s lyre and the much more beautiful Hark! ‘tis the linnet and the thrush with the voice subtly mimicking the call of the birds.

Trumpeters Friedemann Immer and Ute Rothkirch do sterling work with their fanfares and the chorus jubilantly proclaim their praise of the conquering hero – written for this oratorio, and then transplanted by the ever economical Handel into Judas Maccabaeus.

The recording matches up to Maulbronn’s previous high standards and is as elegantly packaged as always.

Serena Fenwick