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  BIS -
  Handel: Great Oratorio Duets - Carolyn Sampson, Robin Blaze
  Handel: Duets from Jephta, Joshua, Belshazzar, Susanna, Theodora, Solomon, Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, Saul, Deborah, Alexander Balus, Alexander's Feast, Esther

Carolyn Sampson
Robin Blaze
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Nicholas Kraemer (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 4

Reviews: 2

Site review by Polly Nomial September 23, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:  
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

Review by Southern SACD Fan September 11, 2007 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
If you have ever had to sit through three hours of St Matthews Passion, the title “Great Oratorio Duets” might seem like a contradiction. Like all musical styles oratorio is a mixed bag. Let me say at this point that this disk represents one of the high points of recorded oratorio.

This BIS hybrid SACD has 18 tracks of duets selected from Handel’s English oratorios. In Handel’s day the counter-tenor was the star of the show and people largely paid to see the counter-tenor with the rest of the cast as a lesser attraction. How times have changed, sopranos are often the main attraction now.

Carolyn Sampson as soprano and Robin Blaze as counter-tenor are both well acclaimed, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment has now been going for over 20 years and Nicholas Kraemer as conductor also has strong credentials in recording and live performance. So all the ingredients are good but does it work? In this case – YES! As you can see by my award of 5 stars to both categories, the quality of the singing and instrumental playing is excellent without being too showy and the acoustic on the SACD layers is gorgeous.

The subject selection means that you can listen to large parts of the disk at a time without needing to skip tracks. The booklet is well written and will be needed at times even though the diction is clear and the singing is in English. Track 5 “When Thou Art Nigh” ends with a repeated refrain “… and bondage will smile”, which did not sound at all right! Reading the written text simply shows this meant the 2 young lovers in this duet had missed each other when they were apart. Perhaps another example of how times have changed.

If you think you don’t like opera or oratorio, this might just be the disk to change your mind.

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Works: 11  

George Frideric Handel - Masque "Alexander's Feast", HWV 75
George Frideric Handel - Masque "Esther", HWV 50a
George Frideric Handel - Ode "Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne", HWV 74
George Frideric Handel - Oratorio "Alexander Balus", HWV 65
George Frideric Handel - Oratorio "Belshazzar", HWV 61
George Frideric Handel - Oratorio "Deborah", HWV 51
George Frideric Handel - Oratorio "Jephtha", HWV 70
George Frideric Handel - Oratorio "Joshua", HWV 64
George Frideric Handel - Oratorio "Saul", HWV 53
George Frideric Handel - Oratorio "Susanna", HWV 66
George Frideric Handel - Oratorio "Theodora", HWV 68