Deborah Oratorio, Act 2: Great Phophetess, My Souls On Fire, Recit.
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Handel had introduced a new musical form whose impact was to be felt for two centuries afterwards. The story is a rather gruesome one. The Israelites, now twenty years in captivity under Jabin, King of Canaan, are told by the prophetess Deborah that Sisera, the Canaanite commander, will die at the hand of a woman.
After diplomatic deadlock the two sides go to war and the Canaanites are defeated. Sisera dutifully fulfils the prophecy after fleeing from the battlefield and seeking sanctuary with the beautiful young heroine Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. Jael gives the exhausted commander sanctuary, probably seduces him into the bargain and, while he sleeps, nails his head to the ground with a tent peg. Handel instead was presented with a series of tableaux which he set to marvellous music.
For the dramatic purist the work may be flawed. For the scholar, Deborah is at the very least a fascinating link in the development of the eighteenth-century oratorio. For the musical detective there are hours of fun to be had tracing former works. Many of these would have been new to London audiences. The scoring of Deborah was splendidly expansive, requiring an eight-part choir all the more novel to eighteenth-century audiences who were used to operas with little ensemble work and a large orchestral body of strings, oboes, bassoons, flutes, three horns, three trumpets, timpani, harpsichord and two organs.
The scoring was unusually detailed, often providing ripieno lines for cellos and bassoons rather than combining them all on the continuo line , and giving clear instructions for the disposition of keyboard instruments. In later performances Handel was able as we are to increase the scale and size of his choir. With this double choir, a large string section and six brass players the climaxes, scored in as many as twenty-four parts, are thrilling: to an eighteenth-century audience they must have been revelatory.
Deborah Oratorio, Act 2: Great Phophetess, My Souls On Fire, Recit.
For the first run of Deborah Handel had an all-star cast. In July Handel repeated the work in the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford where he also presented the first performance of Athalia : the subsequent popularity of Deborah ensured that it was presented in another five oratorio series between and Performing version Deborah is the only oratorio for which Handel did not produce his own, newly written autograph copy.
Instead it seems that his copyist stayed almost literally at his side, for the manuscript now held in the British Museum shows one hand sometimes taking over from the other in the middle of a phrase. Handel did not write out the choruses taken from the coronation anthems but instead gave the copyist a reference to the former conducting score where he wrote in the new text directly over the original words.
Also missing from the principal score is a sizeable portion of Act I, for which our performing edition turns to the Barrett-Lennard manuscript in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The problems posed by the overture are addressed below. For the performances in the two Smiths strung together four movements into a rather haphazard overture, and it is this which has most frequently opened Deborah in twentieth-century performances. Such a compilation is a poor piece of work, ill-matched, badly scored and probably not even approved by Handel.
For this recording we turn instead with the help of the Handel scholar Anthony Hicks to the Hamburg conducting score which has the bass line of a D major overture inserted at the beginning. This turns out to match the first two movements of the overture to the Occasional Oratorio but concludes with a Minuet which exactly copies that in the Music for the Royal Fireworks, though without the multiple repeats.
It seems that Handel composed the overture in its three-movement form for the revival of Deborah in , two years later re-used the first two movements to begin his Occasional Oratorio , and then in recycled the Minuet into the Music for the Royal Fireworks.
This makes a splendid overture! Barak and Deborah confidently send the messenger packing, stating that their troops fear no-one. The fine Alleluia that closes the coronation anthem makes an equally effective ending to Act I. The Israelites, assembled on Mount Tabor, see the Baalite army and their commander Sisera approaching.
Both sides are prepared for battle. The final entries, first over an insistent, dominant pedal and then over a tonic pedal are incredibly powerful. There is some particularly fine writing for the violas in the middle of a rich string texture. The Chief Priest of Baal states that there is no god like Baal, and in a splendid chorus his followers call to their god, their repeated, wailing, almost primeval cries anchored and enhanced by a circular bass line, inexorably repeated by the entire string section.
Such blasphemy is too much for the Chief Priest of the Israelites. Its massive, sixteen-part block chords spread over four octaves are the most powerful call imaginable to the Deity. The final phrases are quite devastating in their power. All possibilities of peace are now finished and Deborah sends Sisera away. At first glance the libretto seems to suggest the inclusion of warlike instruments, but Handel instead chose the delicate and unusual texture of two flutes doubling a solo organ.
The effect is captivating, and perhaps also suggests that when God is on your side there is no need to strike aggressive poses. Abinoam is pleased that his son has performed nobly in battle and, accepting his own oncoming death, contemplates the immortality that victory has assured for Barak. Jael brings the news that Sisera is dead, and the Priests of Baal sing a mournful dirge, their lugubrious lines accompanied by the slow dotted string rhythm which Handel often uses for moments of desolate drama.
At the end the orchestra drops out, and first unaccompanied choir and then two solo organs close a most effective movement. Sisera, exhausted certainly by the battle, if not also by his beautiful hostess, fell asleep, and Jael seized the opportunity to nail his head to the floor with a tent peg. Consistency of performance and of engineering is a There is something especially infectious about Robert King's music-making [and] the recording Duet: Where do thy ardours raise me? Recitative: O Deborah!
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Recitative: No more, ye infidels, no more! Recitative: O great Jehovah! Update Required To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.
CDA/2 - Disc 2 Track 26 - Deborah, HWV51 - Hyperion Records - CDs, MP3 and Lossless downloads
Don't show me this message again. Deborah, HWV51 composer.
George Frideric Handel The popularity of his operas in London had been dwindling for the last few seasons and, despite attempts to reawaken public interest, his takings at the box office were increasingly poor. Even revivals of previously successful operas failed to excite the general public.
Handel had ignored the growing body of opinion which favoured the writing of operas in English, rather than in Italian, and his stubbornness was now generating reaction against him. Let all the people praise Thee. Choir and Congregation, All people that on earth do dwell, Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice ; Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell, Come ye before Him and rejoice. Tenors and Basses.
Choir and Congregation in unison.
For it is seemly so to do. Soprano Solo, or all the Sopranos. For why? The Lord our God is good ; His meixy is for ever sure ; His truth at all times firmly stood, And shall from age to age endure. Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow. Vaqe Chorus The eyes of all wait upon Thee Before the mountains were brought forth Solo Soprano Great is the Lord The streamlet raised its gentler voice Solo Tenor Thus saith the Lord Consider the lilies The blushing fruits appear at His command For ever, Lord, Thy word endureth Thou, Whose constant mercies All people that on earth do dwell Shapcott Wensley.
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Tempo giusto. Maunder— Song of Thanksgiving. Soprano Solo. Novello- T I Urn xz: :. Thou o - pen-est Thine mmmm z. Lord, they wait up - on Thee, they wait up - on Thee. Maunder- Song of Thanksgiving. Tempo lmo. Be - for' e the mountains were brought forth, m m be -fore tlie r cres. Marcato e robzisto. Maunder— Rnng of Thanksgiving. S HE tfets come,.