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Handel: Joseph and his Brethren / King's Consort

Album Summary

>Handel, George Frideric : Joseph and his brethren, HWV 59
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

'I have no reservations about encouraging anyone interested in Handel to buy this set and to acquaint themselves with the many delights of this grossly neglected work' (Gramophone)

'A must for all dedicated Handelians' (Classic CD)

'Mi recomendación más absoluta... Tres horas de deleite musical que no se debe perder' (CD Compact, Spain)

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
There's never been a complete, professional recording of Joseph and his Brethren, a neglect out of proportion to the merits of its music. It's full of good and characteristic things, and there are several scenes, including the extended denouement in the last act, that are very moving.

The work begins splendidly, with an unusual overture heralding a deeply felt opening scene for Joseph, languishing in an Egyptian prison. The setting of his prophecy is effective, with seven bars of darting arpeggios for the years of plenty and seven of sparse harmonic writing, adagio, for the famine years.

The rest of Act 1 celebrates Joseph's foresight, preferment and marriage to Asenath, Pharaoh's daughter. The highlights of Act 2 include a prison scene for Simeon, an agonised G minor accompanied recitative and aria, a beautiful, nostalgic idyll for Joseph, and scenes for Joseph with his brothers which incorporate a splendid outburst from Simeon, an aria from Benjamin and a moving chorus from the brothers, a sustained prayer and a richly worked fugue.

The soloists dispatch all this music with spirit and accuracy. James Bowman is in excellent voice in the title-role, full, rich and duly agile in the rapid music. Joseph is well suited to Robert King's way of conducting Handel. This isn't a specially dramatic performance, but carefully moulded and intelligently paced. The choir produces a sound that's bright and firm and the singing is resolute. King is particularly good at shaping the dynamics in a natural and unanimous way.


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Works Details

>Handel, George Frideric : Joseph and his brethren, HWV 59
  • Performers: Catherine Denley (Mezzo Soprano); Connor Burrowes (Treble); Yvonne Kenny; John Ainsley (Tenor); William Missin (Countertenor); James Bowman (Countertenor); Michael George
  • Conductor: Robert King
  • Ensemble: King's Consort
  • Notes: 1744 zz zz (03/19/1996-03/25/1996)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio
  • Written: 1743