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Handel: Joshua, HWV 64 – Original version of 1748

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To mark the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death, the 32nd London Handel Festival presented not only an outstanding artistic programme in honour of the great composer, but also the release of his fourth oratorio Joshua on CD. This highly acclaimed performance opened last year’s Festival and was recorded live by SOMM Recordings in collaboration with the London Handel Society.

London Handel Singers
London Handel Orchestra
Laurence Cummings – Conductor
Allan Clayton – Tenor
Katherine Manley – Soprano
Alexandra Gibson – Mezzo soprano
George Humphreys – Bass
Produced by Siva Oke, Director of SOMM

The oratorio is based on the Biblical stories of Joshua, who led the Israelites as they took possession of the ‘promised land’ of Canaan and attacked Jericho. Interwoven in the story of military conquest is the love story between the young Israelite captain Othniel and Calab’s daughter Achsah. In the final scene, the Israelites triumph and praise Joshua, and Othniel is proclaimed worthy of marrying Achsah.

This is the first ever recording of the complete oratorio in its original form premiered at Covent Garden in 1748. Despite his failing sight, Handel revised Achsah’s aria ‘Hark! ‘tis the linnet and the thrush’ for the revival of the oratorio in 1752. Chrysander’s edition recorded the revision in an incorrect version and, although the error was been pointed out in 1995, it continues in use. In this performance the aria’s original version was restored.

One of the Festival’s finest hours.
Hilary Finch, The Times

[Clayton is] “a tenor rapidly making a name for himself, who was suitably heroic in the title role, but always attractive of tone and eloquent of expression.”
Barry Millington, The Evening Standard

On This Recording

  1. Joshua: Act II: Recitative: ‘Tis well; six times the Lord hath been obey’d (Joshua)
  2. Joshua: Introduction
  3. Joshua: Act I: Ye Sons of Israel, ev’ry tribe attend (Chorus of Israelites)
  4. Joshua: Act II: A solemn march during the circumvention of the Ark of the Covenant
  5. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: Behold, my friends, what vast rewards are giv’n (Joshua, Caleb)
  6. Joshua: Act II: Glory to God! – The nations tremble (Chorus, Joshua)
  7. Joshua: Act I: Aria: O first in wisdom, what vast rewards are giv’n (Caleb)
  8. Joshua: Act II: Recitative: The walls are levell’d (Caleb)
  9. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: Matrons and virgins. with unwearied pray’r (Achsah)
  10. Joshua: Act II: Aria: See, the raging flames arise (Caleb)
  11. Joshua: Act I: Aria: Oh! Who can tell, oh! Who can hear (Achsah)
  12. Joshua: Act II: Aria: To vanity and earthly pride (Achsah)
  13. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: Caleb, attend to all I now prescribe (Joshua)
  14. Joshua: Act II: Recitative: Let all the seed of Abrah’m now prepare (Joshua)
  15. Joshua: Act I: To long to posterity we were record (Chorus, Joshua)
  16. Joshua: Act II: Aria: Almighty ruler of the skies (Joshua, Chorus)
  17. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: How long shall the memory last (Joshua)
  18. Joshua: Act II: Recitative: Joshua, the men dispatch’d by thee to learn (Caleb)
  19. Joshua: Act I: Aria: While Kedron’s brook to Jordan’s stream (Joshua)
  20. Joshua: Act II: How soon tow’ring our hopes are cross’d (Chorus)
  21. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: But, who is he? – tremendous to behold! (Othniel)
  22. Joshua: Act II: Recitative: Whence this dejection? (Joshua)
  23. Joshua: Act I: Aria: Awful, pleasing being say (Othniel)
  24. Joshua: Act II: Aria: We with redoubled rage return (Joshua, Chorus)
  25. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: Joshua, I come commission’d from on high (Angel, Joshua)
  26. Joshua: Act II: Recitative: Now give the army breath; let war a while (Othniel)
  27. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: Leader of Israel (Angel)
  28. Joshua: Act II: Aria: Heroes when with glory burning (Othniel)
  29. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: To give command, prerogative is thine (Joshua)
  30. Joshua: Act II: Recitative: Indulgent heav’n hath heard my virgin pray’r (Achsah)
  31. Joshua: Act I: Aria: Haste, haste Israel (Joshua)
  32. Joshua: Act II: Aria: As cheers the sun the tender flow’r (Achsah)
  33. Joshua: Act I: The Lord commands, and Joshua leads (Chorus)
  34. Joshua: Act II: Recitative: Sure I’m deceiv’d, with sorrow I behold (Caleb, Othniel)
  35. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: In these blest scenes (Othniel)
  36. Joshua: Act II: Aria: Nations, who in future story (Othniel)
  37. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: ‘Tis Achsah’s voice! (Othniel, Achsah)
  38. Joshua: Act II: Recitative: Brethren and friends, what joy this scene imparts (Joshua)
  39. Joshua: [Flourish of warlike instruments]
  40. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: Hail, lovely virgin of this blissful bow’r! (Othniel, Achsah)
  41. Joshua: Act I: Aria: Hark! ’tis the linnet and the thrush (Achsah)
  42. Joshua: Act II: Recitative: Thus far our cause is favour’d by the Lord (Caleb)
  43. Joshua: [Flourish of warlike instruments]
  44. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: O Achsah, form’d for ev’ry chaste delight (Othniel)
  45. Joshua: Act I: Duet: Our limpid streams with freedom flow (Achsah, Othniel)
  46. Joshua: Act II: Chorus: Oh! Thou bright orb, great ruler of the day (Joshua, Chorus)
  47. Joshua: [Flourish of trumpets]
  48. Joshua: Act III: Hail! Mighty Joshua, Hail! (Chorus)
  49. Joshua: Act I: Recitative: The trumpet calls; now Jericho shall know (Othniel)
  50. Joshua: Act III: Aria: Happy, oh trice happy we (Achsah)
  51. Joshua: Act I: May all the host of heav’n attend him round (Chorus)
  52. Joshua: Act III: Recitative: Caleb, for holy Eleazer send (Joshua, Caleb)
  53. Joshua: Act III: Aria: Shall I in mamre’s fertile plain (Caleb)
  54. Joshua: Act III: For all these mercies we will sing (Chorus)
  55. Joshua: Act III: Recitative: O Caleb, fear’d by foes, by friends ador’d (Othniel, Caleb)
  56. Joshua: Act III: Aria: Place danger around me (Othniel)
  57. Joshua: Act III: Father of mercy, hear the pray’r we make (Chorus)
  58. Joshua: Act III: Recitative: In bloom of youth, this stripling hath achiev’d (Joshua)
  59. Joshua: Act III: See the conqu’ring hero comes (Chorus)
  60. Joshua: Act III: Duet: See the godlike youth advance! (Virgins)
  61. Joshua: Act III: See the conquering hero comes (Chorus)
  62. Joshua: Act III: Recitative: Welcome! My son, my Othniel, good and great (Caleb, Othniel, Achsah)
  63. Joshua: Act III: Aria: Oh! Had I Jubal’s lyre (Achsah)
  64. Joshua: Act III: Recitative: While life shall last (Othniel)
  65. Joshua: Act III: Duet: O peerless maid, with beauty blest (Othniel, Achsah)
  66. Joshua: Act III: Recitative: While lawless tyrants, with ambition blind (Caleb)
  67. Joshua: Act III: The great Jehovah is our awful theme (Chorus)