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Among Handel's rarely performed but worthy and wonderful oratorios is Esther, often dismissed for its problematic libretto and its substantial borrowings from other works. Forget all of that and just listen to this thoroughly engaging and tuneful work that features some of Handel's finest arias and most sublime choruses. Harry Christophers and his performers keep the energy high while the sound team provides uncommon immediacy and presence. --David Vernier
1 - Overture. Andante - Larghetto - Allegro
2 - Scene 1. Recitative. Tis greater far to spare
3 - Scene 1. Aria. Pluck root and branch from out the land
4 - Scene 1. Chorus. Shall we the God of Israel fear?
5 - Scene 2. Aria. Tune your harps to cheerful strains
6 - Scene 2. Chorus. Shall we of servitude complain
7 - Scene 2. Aria. Praise the Lord with cheerful noise
8 - Scene 2. Aria. Sing songs of praise, bow down the knee
9 - Scene 2. Chorus. Shall we of servitude complain
10 - Scene 3. Recitative. How have our sins provoked the Lord!
11 - Scene 3. Chorus. Ye sons of Israel mourn
12 - Scene 3. Aria. O Jordan, Jordan, sacred tide
13 - Scene 3. Chorus. Ye sons of Israel mourn
14. Oboe Sonata in G minor, HWV 404: Andante
15. Oboe Sonata in G minor, HWV 404: Allegro
16. Oboe Sonata in G minor, HWV 404: Adagio
17. Oboe Sonata in G minor, HWV 404: Allegro
1 - Scene 4. Recitative. Why sits that sorrow on thy brow?
2 - Scene 4. Aria. Dread not, righteous Queen, the danger
3 - Scene 4. Aria. Tears assist me, pity moving
4 - Scene 4. Chorus. Save us, O Lord
5 - Scene 5. Recitative. Who dares intrude into our presence
6 - Scene 5. Duet. Who calls my parting soul from death?
7 - Scene 5. Aria. O beauteous Queen, unclose those eyes!
8 - Scene 5. Aria. How can I stay when love invites!
9 - Scene 5. Chorus. Virtue, truth and innocence
10 - Scene 5. Arioso. Jehovah, crown'd with glory bright
11 - Scene 5. Chorus. He comes, he comes to end our woes
12 - Scene 6. Recitative. Now, O Queen, thy suit declare
13 - Scene 6. Arioso. Turn not, O Queen, thy face away
14 - Scene 6. Aria. Flatt'ring tongue, no more I hear thee!
15 - Scene 6. Recitative. Guards, seize the traitor, bear him hence!
16 - Scene 6. Aria. How art thou fall'n from thy height!
17 - Scene 6. Chorus. The Lord our enemy has slain
Lynda Russell, Nancy Argenta, soprano
Michael Chance, alto
Thomas Randle, Mark Padmore, Matthew Vine, Simon Berridge, tenor
Michael George, Robert Evans, Simon Birchall, bass
Anthony Robson (oboe)
Choir and Orchestra of The Sixteen
dir. Harry Christophers