HANDEL: ISRAEL IN EGYPT (Aradia Ensemble/ Kevin Mallon) (Naxos: 8.570966-67)
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Handel's oratorio 'Israel in Egypt' was written three years before the 'Messiah' and, like the 'Messiah', is somewhat atypical of the composer's oratorios.
Scored for double chorus and an orchestra using trombones, trumpets, timpani, woodwinds and strings with continuo, 'Israel in Egypt' contains relatively little solo material but is dominated by large-scale virtuosic choruses that fully exploit Handel's lavish and sophisticated word-painting.
Set pieces for which the work is most famous include swarming strings representing flies in 'He spake the word', the furious brass and timpani in 'He gave them hailstones for rain' and the famous depiction of frogs in the aria 'Their land brought forth frogs'.
\We owe a great deal to Naxos for discovering and promoting hidden talent. Their patronage has revealed the excellent Toronto-based Aradia Ensemble and Kevin Mallon, their director. Their accompaniment here is rhythmically well-sprung and thoughtfully but discreetly phrased." BBC Music Magazine on 8557852.