- Samson, oratorio, HWV 57
Handel: Samsonby Harry Christophers
Handel's oratorios don't get any better than "Samson." Composed directly after "Messiah," "Samson" is a tragedy of Biblical proportions with standout roles for the soloists, wonderfully effective parts for the chorus, and brilliant scoring for the orchestra. In its day, "Samson" was one of Handel's most popular works, and it remained so up through the early years of the twentieth century when "Samson," like nearly all Handel's other oratorios, was eclipsed by the overwhelming popularity of "Messiah" and the singlemindedness of the listening public. There have been few great recordings of "Samson" over the past 50 years, and they don't get any greater than this 1996 recording by Harry Christophers leading The Sixteen. All of the soloists are outstanding, from muscular tenor Thomas Randle as the blind Hebrew warrior through seductive soprano Lynda Russell as the debauched Philistine harlot. The chorus is equally effective in everything from the festive Philistines of the opening scene through the elegiac Hebrews of the closing scene. Christophers himself is a brilliant conductor, bringing out the best in the soloists and chorus, along with the marvelously named Symphony of Harmony & Invention, which especially distinguishes itself in the "Dead March" after "Samson"'s suicide. Coro's 2005 reissue of the Collin's digital original is warm, open, and richly detailed.
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Performance CreditsHarry Christophers Primary Artist
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