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Handel: Jephtha / James Gilchrist, Susan Bickley, Sophie Bevan, Robin Blaze, Matthew Brook, Grace Davidson / The Sixteen, Christophers

Album Summary

>Handel, George Frideric : Jephtha
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Financial Times, 20th September 2014
Christophers draws supple singing from his expert choir, The Sixteen, and his soloists are uniformly good, especially James Gilchrist's inward-looking Jephtha.

BBC Music Magazine, January 2015
Christophers's taut, vibrant, and beautifully sprung account is bright and dazzling, yet so often the score ought to inhabit the tortured light and shade of Caravaggio...the choruses are finely chiselled; but the sheer polish and manicure sometimes works against the visceral immediacy of any underlying 'sore distress'...The star of the set is Sophie Bevan's Iphis.

Gramophone Magazine, September 2014
Gilchrist conveys affable nonchalance in the early stages...and aptly characterises Jephtha's deepening emotional responses to the unfolding tragedy...Bevan's Iphis is endearingly naive in 'Tune the soft melodious lute'...whereas her modest resignation to a tragic doom is profoundly moving...The orchestra play excellently.

International Record Review, December 2014
Iphis is sung here by the radiant British star soprano Sophie Bevan in her most important recording to date...This is an unforgettable performance which all Handelians will want to hear...In sum, Christophers's considered view of Handel, devoid of extremes and eccentricities, and the work of his outstanding choir and orchestra make this a solid recommendation for anyone contemplating Jephtha for the first time.

Choir & Organ
The choral singing is exemplary, technically perfect (particularly in Handel's coloratura runs) and with a real sense of engagement in the unfolding drama. The solo contributions are equally accomplished, none more so than James Gilchrist.

The Times, 6th September 2014
This pristine recording by Harry Christophers and his Sixteen Choir and Orchestra does almost full justice to it. My only quibble is that it projects polished urbanity rather than raw emotion, though the cast (James Gilchrist, Susan Bickley, Sophie Bevan prominent) cannot be faulted for stylishness or expressivity.

The Observer, 21st September 2014
Two hours of deeply profound music, beautifully performed here by Harry Christophers and his stellar cast of soloists. Sophie Bevan is dazzling as the daughter, Iphis...and James Gilchrist is simply sensational as the anguished Jephtha, breaking our hearts with Waft her, angels, through the sky.

Renowned for their Handel interpretations, Harry Christophers and his award-winning choir, The Sixteen, add to their glittering catalog of Handel discs with this new recording of Jephtha. It has been reckoned that Handel put more notes on paper than any other composer before or since. When he undertook Jephtha, the last new oratorio he was to write, he had composed over 40 operas; over 30 odes, oratorios, and serenatas; over 100 cantatas; over 40 pieces of church music; and over 100 instrumental works. Jephtha is the harvest of his decades of investigation into individual character, the human condition, the natural world, and the nature of God; for many listeners, it is the masterpiece among his oratorios.

American Record Guide, January/February 2015
This production tops predecessors on one count: the inclusion as an appendix of a recitative and aria that Handel added for Zebul in a revival of the work. I still wish we could have the Gardiner and Somary recordings once more, but this generally excellent new one from Christophers is certainly the top choice among those now available.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: St Augustine's Church, Killburn, London (01/2014).


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Works Details

>Handel, George Frideric : Jephtha
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen
  • Notes: Composition written: 1752.
  • Running Time: 150 min. 41 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio
  • Written: 1752