Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus

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Sunday, December 09, 2012

On this special episode of the Choral Mix we honor Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. We explore selections from George Frideric Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus.

Handel, a master at oratorio, composed this work of three acts in 1747, and conducted it more than 40 times. The oratorio is similar in nature and length to the Messiah, running for over two hours. It was a marvelous success in its day specifically because of its favorable depiction of Judas Maccabeus, son of a Jewish priest.

Listen for tympani and trumpet fanfare as the temple is reclaimed, setting the stage for the menorah to be lit for eight days and nights.

Our episode showcases two recordings of the oratorio. Act I is performed by the Maulbronn Chamer Choir with Musica Florea under the direction of Jürgen Budday. Acts II & III are performed by the Namur Chamber Choir with Les Agrémens under the baton of Leonardo Garcia Alarcòn.



Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63 by George Frideric Handel

1747; London, England


Conductor: Jürgen Budday

Orchestra/Ensemble: Maulbronn Chamber Choir, Musica Florea

Performers: Marc LeBrocq (Tenor), Catherine King (Mezzo Soprano), Charles Humphries (Countertenor),

Sinead Pratschke (Soprano), Christopher Purves (Bass)

Label: K & K Verlagsanstalt // Release Date: 07/29/2008


Act I

1. Overture*

2. Mourn ye afflicted children (Chorus)

5. For Sion lamentation make (Chorus)

8. O Father, whose Almighty power the heavens, and earth and seas adore (Chorus)

9. Recitative: I feel the Deity within (Simon)

10. Aria: Arm, arm, ye brave (Simon) - We come in bright array (Chorus)

18. Lead on, lead on (Chorus)

20. Disdainful of danger, we'll rush on the foe (Chorus)

24. Hear us, O Lord (Chorus)


Conductor: Leonardo Garcia Alarcòn

Orchestra/Ensemble: Namur Chamber Choir, Les Agrémens

Performers: Etienne Debaisieux (Bass), Fabian Schofrin (Counter Tenor), Alejandro Meerapfel (Baritone),

Makoto Sakurada (Tenor), Mariana Rewerski (Mezzo Soprano)

Label: Ambronay // Release Date: 07/13/2010


Act II

23. Chorus: Fall'n is the foe

30. Duet: Hail, hail

3. Recitative: O Judas

4. Air: Ah wretched

8. Air: Sound an alarm

13. Duet: Oh never bow we down



21. Chorus: See the conquering hero comes

22. Chorus: Sing unto God

28. Air: Rejoice O Judah Alleluia Amen


* Overture is performed by Namur Chamber Choir, Les Agrémens


Comments [3]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, NJ

HANDEL'S ORATORIOS ARE THE MOST REVERED OF HIS COMPOSITIONS. ONE THAT IS NOT AS OFTEN PERFORMED AS IT DESERVES TO BE IS HIS "JUDAS MACCABAEUS." ITS "SOUND AN ALARM"' IS STIRRING. IT'S MY CLOSING SELECTION ON MY SOLO DEBUT IN THE ISAAC STERN AUDITORIUM OF CARNEGIE HALL CONCERT "{LIVE" ON MY VALHALLA RECORDS CD AND MAY BE DOWNLOADED FROM MY THREE WEBSITES. MOST CLASSICAL MUSIC, INCLUDING CHRISTMAS CAROLS, THE MESSIAH, ELIJAH, BACH'S CANTATAS, HYMNS AND MOTETS AND OPERAS LIKE BOHEME AND TRAVIATA THAT HAVE ALLUSIONS TO CHRISTMAS AND COMIC OR JOLLY OPERAS LIKE THE BARBER, L'ELISIR, CENERENTOLA AND DIE MEISTERSINGER AND PARTICULARLY HOUSEHOLD "CHESTNUTS" ARE EXCELLENT INGREDIENTS FOR A MERRY XMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR !!! , My cousin MICHAEL BLANKFORT wrote both the books and screenplays for the 1953 film THE JUGGLER Hollywood film made in Israel starring KIRK DOUGLAS and the 1950 Hollywood film BROKEN ARROW starring JAMES STEWART and JEFF CHANDLER [Cochise]. The music for THE JUGGLER was composed by opera composer GEORGE ANTHEIL, in whose opera VOLPONE I sang the tenor leading role [Mosca] in its professional world premiere in NEW YORK in 1953. ANTHEIL, famous for his opera TRANSATLANTIC and BALLET MECHANIQUE looked exactly like Peter Lorre. I am a romantischer heldentenor. I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I opened my three hour concert with the Invocazione di Orfeo from Jacopo Peri's opera EURIDICE composed in 1600, the first opera, composed in the same year as Shakespeare wrote HAMLET. It can be heard from the live performance on my three websites, www.WagnerOpera.com, , www.ShakespeareOpera.com, and www.RichardWagnerMusicDramaInstitute.com. It received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines. My voice teachers were the legendary MET OPERA singers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell and Margarete Matzenauer. In another commentary on wqxr.org one commented about all operas that were once NEW but now not new anymore should be archived like museum pieces. That implies that just being new is better than old. As an opera composer myself ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"] I fully comprehend the assumed urgency of recognition of the still living. However, I would not trade any living composer for Bach, Beethoven, Mpzart, Verdi, Puccini or Wagner. Revere and enjoy the MASTERPIECES of art, music, literature, architecture and science in its multiple formats . I am the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute in Boonton, NJ where I train actors in all the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers in all the Wagner opera roles.

Dec. 09 2012 09:34 AM
Gary Ekman from Manhattan/NYC

Wow, the fact that Handel wrote a "Jewish" oratorio is a revelation. (Pun intended.) The thrilling "Sound An Alarm" reminds me of "The Trumpet Shall Sound" from the Messiah. Wonderful music. Thanks for the Hanukkah treat.

Dec. 09 2012 08:54 AM
Rod Sorensen from NYC

why are performers not listed for Judas Maccabeus?

Dec. 09 2012 08:04 AM

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