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  • Handel - Alexander Balus / Denley, George, C. Daniels, Dawson, McFadden, The King's Consort
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Handel - Alexander Balus / Denley, George, C. Daniels, Dawson, McFadden, The King's Consort Import


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Audio CD, Import, October 14, 1997
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$39.22
$17.64 $16.75
$39.22 & FREE Shipping. Details Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Of the four militaristic oratorios Handel wrote in the 1740s, Joshua, the Occasional Oratorio, Judas Maccabeus, and Alexander Balus, this last, based on an episode from the apocryphal book of the Maccabees, is the only really uninspired one of the lot. The best numbers are recycled from Handel's marvelous La Resurrezione of more than 30 years before--this is no problem in itself, but the rest of the music sounds all the duller in comparison. Still Hyperion, Robert King, and the King's Consort deserve praise for seeing to it that all of Handel's oratorios get high-quality performances on disc. Handel completists will want this, especially for Lynne Dawson's delicious performance as the Egyptian queen. --Matthew Westphal

Disc: 1
1. Alexander Balus: Act I: Ouverture
2. Alexander Balus: Act I: Chorus Asiates
3. Alexander Balus: Act I: Recitative Alexander
4. Alexander Balus: Act I: Air Jonathan
5. Alexander Balus: Act I: Flourish Of Trumpets
6. Alexander Balus: Act I: Recitative Ptolomee
7. Alexander Balus: Act I: Air Ptolomee
8. Alexander Balus: Act I: Recitative Cleopatra
9. Alexander Balus: Act I: Air Cleopatra
10. Alexander Balus: Act I: Recitative Alexander
See all 31 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Alexander Balus: Act II: Chorus Israelites
2. Alexander Balus: Act II: Recitative Cleopatra
3. Alexander Balus: Act II: Air Cleopatra
4. Alexander Balus: Act II: Recitative Aspasia
5. Alexander Balus: Act II: Air Aspasia
6. Alexander Balus: Act II: Recitative Ptolomee
7. Alexander Balus: Act II: Air Ptolomee
8. Alexander Balus: Act II: Accompagnato Jonathan
9. Alexander Balus: Act II: Soli - Chorus
10. Alexander Balus: Act II: Recitative Alexander
See all 35 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Performer: George Frideric Handel, Robert King, Lynne Dawson, Claron McFadden, Charles Daniels, et al.
  • Audio CD (October 14, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion UK
  • ASIN: B000003015
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,543 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M on July 20, 2003
Format: Audio CD
It would be a great shame, this being the oratorio's sole recording to date besides one dreadfully amateurish recording by Rudolph Palmer, if this recording were not up-to-scratch. "Alexander Balus" is full of wonderful music, the vehicle for a very satisfying plot. Fortunately, this recording is excellent. Though it has been referred to as one of several distinctly militaristic oratorios (such as Judas Maccabaeus and Joshua), the referrence is misleading because Balus contains a dramatic thread one can follow and appreciate without too much distraction, and one that is not really dominated by military action in the slightest. To illustrate my point I've summarised the plot in the next four paragraphs.
Alexander Balus, who has recently conquered the throne of Syria, offers his friendship to Ptolemee, the King of Egypt. Love soon blossoms between Alexander and Ptolemee's daughter Cleopatra. The highlights of the opening scene include Cleopatra's air "Hark! hark! he strikes the golden lyre" the chorus of Asiates' "Ye happy nations round". My favourite part of Act I is Scene Three, when Cleopatra and her attendant, Aspasia, discuss and anticipate the merits of true love in a lovely series of arias culminating in a stunning, joyful and utterly thrilling duet "O what pleasures past expressing". For this duet alone, it is beyond belief that Alexander Balus is so little represented on the stage and in the recording studio.
In Act II Alexander asks Ptolomee for his daughter's hand in marriage and Ptolomee obliges, sending word that his bride awaits him at Ptolomais. However, a courtier then appears bringing word that there is a plot against Alexander's life - the would-be assassin being none other than Jonathan, chief of the Jews and Alexander's friend and brother!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON VINE VOICE on February 16, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Alexander Balus dates from 1747, by which time the threat from Bonnie Prince Charlie to the Hanoverian monarchy had been well and truly suppressed. It has only faint echoes of the anxious and defensive bellicosity that we find in Judas Maccabaeus, Joshua and especially The Occasional Oratorio. Mr impresario Handel and his librettist the Rev Morell were really back to business as usual following the jingoistic Occasional Oratorio, although it may be that they felt a commercial need to revert to greater militarism, and accordingly did so in Joshua, written just afterwards.

Morell's text is based on the First Book of Maccabees. It differs from most of the oratorios in keeping the chorus mainly to a role of setting the scene and summing up at the end of each act or scene, much as in Hercules. There is little overt drama or action until near the end of act II, but the golden flow of Handel's infinite musical inspiration keeps me mesmerised all the way. He displays a formidable box of instrumental tricks in Cleopatra's long aria `Hark! Hark! He strikes the golden lyre', but this is only one in a glorious series of solos until a new note is introduced with the attempt by the Sycophant Courtier to sow discord, after which the general tone becomes not only more varied but more solemn. The chorus `O calumny' that ends act II scene 1 is a very different proposition from the magnificent earlier choruses, and Jonathan's aria `To God who made the radiant sun', and later Cleopatra's `O take me from this hateful light' are among the most awesome that Handel or any man ever conceived.

The part of Balus is an alto part, sung here by Catherine Denley.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 28, 2006
Format: Audio CD
'Alexander Balus' with music by George Frideric Handel, to a libretto by Thomas Morell confirms in my mind the notion that Handel would put the Manhatten Yellow Pages to music for chorus and it would come out sounding glorious. This is even more true of this work than it is for the somewhat longer 'Joseph and his Brethren' if only because there is proportionately more choral music than recitives in this recording. Another favorable comparison to Hyperion's 'Joseph' is that Morell's English text is even easier to understand.

Having just now listened again to Handel's masterpiece, 'The Messiah', I can appreciate why 'Alexander Balus' and 'Joseph...' and all of Handel's other Oratorios have slipped into obscurity, as 'Messiah' is so much better overall, and transcendently beautiful in the famous Halleujeh chorus. But if you simply can't get enough of Herr Handel in the Messiah, this is a great 'extra' attraction.
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Format: Audio CD
"Alexander Balus" has a poor reputation that is at least partly undeserved. Although the plot is adapted from Macabees, the title suggests its basis in history. This makes it an anomaly among Handel’s dramatic oratorios, whose sources are usually Greek myth or the Bible. The title also makes it easy to confuse it with one of the operas. What sticks most in memory is that it’s not supposed to be very good, and for that reason I ignored it for a long time while building my Handel collection. When I finally decided to check it out I was pleasantly surprised. "Balus" is reputed to be one of the weaker oratorios; Dean writes of the librettist’s “fumbling treatment” and affirms that “Act I is perhaps the dullest single act in any of the oratorios.” But I have discovered of late that I’m capable of drawing considerable enjoyment from second-tier Handel. It’s true that nothing much happens in that first act, and that the arias are far too generalized. But the choral movements are stirring, and the showpiece aria “Hark, hark!” by the work’s accidental heroine Cleopatra—one of many earlier Ptolemies to bear the name before the one we recognize--is delightfully embellished with unexpected instrumental ornaments. The second act slowly nudges the plot into motion, and amid the time-marking arias comes one of Handel’s great choruses “O calumny.” The experienced Handel fan will understand when I say that this is the third in a trilogy of moving reflections on human vice, joining the “Envy” chorus from "Saul" and the one on “Jealousy” in "Hercules.Read more ›
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