Esther - G.F. Handel
1720 First reconstructable version.
JAMES GILCHRIST Habdonah - Assuerus
MATTHEW BROOK Haman
ASHLEY TURNELL Officer - 2nd Israelite
THOMAS HOBBS 1st Israelite
ELECTRA LOCHHEAD Israelite Boy
ROBIN BLAZE Priest of the Israelites
SUSAN HAMILTON Esther
NICHOLAS MULROY Mordecai
JOHN BUTT Director
Handel's Esther has long enjoyed the cachet for being the first English Oratorio. Its origins during Handel's short period composing for James Brydges (who became Duke of Chandos in 1719) are obscure and the exact identity of its earliest version uncertain. What has become increasingly clear is the fact that ‘The Oratorium' (as it was initially called) went through two versions between 1718 and 1720. What survives of the earliest version (much of which was clearly discarded during the revision) corresponds almost exactly to the vocal and instrumental forces required for Acis & Galatea of the same year, while the revised score corresponds to the expansion in the group of musicians that Chandos employed at his sumptuous establishment of Cannons, in Edgware.
'My goodness [James Gilchrist] knows a thing about text, he can breathe life into a stale Georgian couplet like no one else. Extraordinary singing. Robin Blaze is in fantastic form as the Priest of the Israelites.' BBC RADIO 3 CD REVIEW