4 LP - 6.35326 FL - (p) 1976

3 CD - 8.35326 ZB - (c) 1985

Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759)

Belshazzar - Oratorium (Text: Charles Jennens)

4' 31" A1
Act 1

Scene 1
15' 17"
- Vain fluctuating state - (Nitocris) 5' 04"

- Thou, God most high 4' 05"

- The fate of Babylon 1' 19"
- Lament not thus - (Daniel) 4' 49"
Scene 2
25' 59"
- Behold, by Persia's hero made - (Chorus)
2' 56"
- Well may they laugh - (Gobrias)
1' 28"
- Opprest with never-ceasing grief 3 08"
- Dry those unavailing tears - (Cyrus) 2' 37"
- Be comforted 4' 07"
- Behold the monstrous human beast - (Gobrias) 3' 15"
- Can you then think - (Cyrus) 4' 49"
- All empires - (Chorus) 3' 39"
Scene 3
12' 55"
- O sacred oracles - (Daniel) 5' 16"
- Rejoice, my countrymen 3' 07"
- Sing, oh ye heav'ns - (Chorus) 4' 34"
Scene 4

31' 58"
- Let festal joy - (Belshazzar) 4' 54"
- For you, my friends 1' 01"
- The leafy honours - (Nitocris) 8' 16"
- It is the custom - (Belshazzar) 1' 54"
- Recall, oh king - (Chorus)
2' 59"
- They tell you true - (Nitocris) 1' 36"
- Oh dearer than my life - (Nitocris, Belshazzar) 6' 42"
- By slow degrees - (Chorus) 4' 36"
Act 2

Scene 1
12' 18"
- See, from his post - (Chorus) 6' 23"
- You see, my friends - (Cyrus) 5' 25"
- To arms, to arms - (Chorus) 0' 30"
Scene 2

25' 41"
- Ye tutelar gods - (Chorus) 2' 55"
- Let the deep bowl - (Belshazzar) 5' 46"
- A Sinfony 2' 41"
- Oh misery - (Chorus) 1' 32"
- Oh king - (Nitocris) 1' 43"
- No! to thyself - (Daniel) 4' 41"
- Regard, oh son - (Nitocris)
6' 23"
- Oh God of Truth - (Cyrus) 5' 37"
- Oh glorious prince - (Chorus) 4' 46"
Act 3

Scene 1
10' 30"
- Alternate hopess and fears - (Nitocris) 4' 22"
- Fain would I hope - (Nitocris, Daniel) 2' 19"
- My hopes revive 2' 14"
- Bel bowweth down - (Chorus) 1' 35"
Scene 2
2' 13"
- I thank thee, Sesach 2' 13"
Scene 3
20' 19"
- To pow'r immortal - (Gobrias) 2' 14"
- Be it thy care - (Cyrus) 3' 00"
- Great victor - (Nitocris, Cyrus) 5' 14"
- Say, venerable prophet - (Daniel) 0' 48"
- Tell it out - (Soli and Chorus) 3' 31"
- I will magnify thee 5' 32"

Robert Tear, Belshazzar, König bon Babylon, Tenor

Felicity Palmer, Nitocris, Belshazzars Mutter, Sopran

Maureen Lehane, Cyrus, Fürst der Perser, Alt

Paul Esswood, Daniel, ein jüdischer Prophet, Alt

Peter van der Bilt, Gobrias, ein zu Cyrus übergegangener Assyrer, Baß
Thomas Sunnegårdh, Arioch, ein babylonischer Hofmann, Tenor
Staffan Sandlund, Ein Bote, Baß

Stockholmer Kammerchor / Eric Ericson, Leitung
(Chœur der Babylonier)

Continuo: Herbert Tachezi, Cembalo / Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Violoncello

CONCENTUS MUSICUS WIEN (mit Originalinstrumenten)

- Hermann Schober, Naturtrompete in D Mitglieder des "MUSICA HOLMIAE"
- Richard Rudolf, Naturtrompete in D - Lars Fryden, Violine
- Kurt Hammer, Pauken - Tullo Galli, Violine
- Jürg Schaeftlein, Oboe - Bertil Orsin, Violine
- Paul Hailperin, Oboe - Lennart Fredriksson, Violine
- Alice Harnoncourt, Violine - Bengt Ericson, Violoncello (Chöre)
- Peter Schoberwalter, Violine - Göte Nylén, Violone (Chöre)
- Wilhelm Mergl, Violine - Anders Öhrwall, Orgel
- Elizabeth Wilcock, Violine

- Anita Mitterer, Violine

- Walter Pfeiffer, Violine

- Ingrid Seifert, Violine

- Veronika Schmidt, Violine

- Richard Motz, Violine

- Josef de Sordi, Violetta

- Kurt Theiner, Viola

- Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Tenorviola (Chöre), Violoncello (Arien, Recit.)

- Friedrich Hiller, Violoncello

- Eduard Hruza, Violone

- Jonathan Cable, Violone

- Milan Turkovic, Fagott

- Herbert Tachezi, Cembalo

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gesamtleitung
Luogo e data di registrazione
Registrazione live / studio
Producer / Engineer
Prima Edizione CD
Teldec "Das Alte Werk" - 8.35326 ZB - (3 cd) - 58' 58" + 58' 28" + 56' 26" - (c) 1985 - AAD
Prima Edizione LP
Telefunken "Das Alte Werk" - 6.35326 FK - (4 lp) - 46' 14" + 35' 26" + 38' 21" + 43' 54" - (p) 1976

Remarkes on the performance
Orchestral setting: Except for the continuo instruments, the composition of the orchestra can be recognized from Handel's scoring: strings (occasionally with thrice divided violins), two oboes, bassoon, two trumpets and kettledrums. In accordance with performance practice at that time it can be assumed that final instrumentation was determined at the particular performance and thus was not a part of the composition, but of the performance. Thus, for example, the role of the woodwind in tutti pieces depended upon the spatial conditions, the size of the string setting, the emotional substance of the piece, the key and the tonal range. In this rendering some pieces were played with augmented oboes, a method which is probably only advisable in performances with Baroque instruments since the latter, as opposed to those used today, completely fuse with the string sound. The trumpets, however, should only be played in the places stated, as they engender very strong associations (war, royal rule, divine rule), outside of which they were never permitted to be used.
A large number of instruments could be used for the continuo: harpsichords, organs, harps, chitarroni, lutes etc. - We have employed only harpsichord and organ together and alternately in order to support the dialogue and the "affections" also from the point of view of tone.
Notation: Handel wrote for the musicians of his day, and they were in the habit of playing a creative part during performance rather than reproducing as accurately as possible the precisely noted text. For instance dotted rhythms would have meant for the musicians of that time merely that one note had to be long and the other short; long and short had to be concluded from the context. The dot after a note would normally have been performed like a pause. Tempo marks were hardly necessary because the tempi are fairly clearly evident from the movement form, the bar indication, the short note values and the affection of the piece, in conjunction with the scoring and the acoustics of the place of performance. Similarly the composer had to include dynamic marks only in exceptional cases, because the broad surface dynamism did not have that enormous significance as in music after Beethoven (in many cases forte and piano can he exchanged without any loss in substance). However, the decisive and highly important minor dynamics [from the stimulation of single notes to the designing of polyphonic figures) were well known to every musician and in their relationship to language were so natural that this did not have to be written down. - These preconditions were to be reestablished with our performance. How long a note is to be effectively sustained cannot automatically be construed from the written music in Handel's case without knowledge of the principles of his performance practice. Very freqently, especially in secco recitatives, the notes have to be decisively shortened and orthographically correct rhythms musically transformed. The illusion as a most important aspect of listening to music, that is to say the imaginative hearing of sounds which are neither played nor sung, is of the greatest significance for the music of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Handel expected of his rnusicans a large degree of creative imagination, since he reckoned with embellishments, especially in the repetitions. However, these are only interesting and convincing if spontaneously invented and not arduously prepared; an especial and essential charm is their uniqueness. For this reason we have kept such embellishments to a minimum, since their fixation in repeatable form to an excessive degree would make listening to a gramophone record an irritating experience.
It has lately become fashionable to vest a particular abundance of ideas, wit and imagination in the continuo parts of harpsichord and organ. When heard superficially this style of play always enjoys considerable praise, and occasionally it is even lauded as being especially stylistic. But the continuo instruments are by no means a playground for ideas; in a simple and refined manner they should provide the harmonious and rhythmic support. They should never be conspicuous - either from superabundance or unfeeling plodding. There is still a great deal to be discovered here in the performance practice of older music.
Articulation: Handel very seldom wrote articulation signs. His musicians were well acquainted and took for granted the principles according to which, say, pages of semiquaver chains were to be transformed into speaking figures by way of ingenious ties and points of emphasis. We too have endeavoured to accord with these principles.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt
English translations by Frederick A. Bishop

Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929-2016)
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