- Judith, oratorio for soloists, chorus & orchestra
41.83 In Stock
Hubert Parry's oratorio "Judith" (in full, "Judith, or the Regeneration of Manasseh") was a hit when it was first performed in 1888, but this is the world premiere recording. It's a studio version that followed closely on a live performance, which itself was the first since 1889. One can see why, with Wagner and Strauss on the rise, the oratorio might have fallen out of favor: the scene in which Judith lures and then beheads Holofernes is not included in the libretto, and the whole thing is Victorian as can be. This said, it is a well-crafted piece of work, and fans of English music will want this fine performance in their collections. The London Mozart Players may seem too delicate an ensemble for a big late 19th century oratorio, but a quick listen to the opening Allegro spiritoso will show the listener that the music is closer to Mendelssohn than to Elgar. There are lots of polyphonic choruses expressing religious sentiments, some very catchy tunes, and a strong climax in which Judith (Sarah Fox) emerges with Holofernes' severed head, singing a pitch-perfect high B flat. The soloists, especially the period voice of Kathryn Rudge as Meshullemeth, wife of King Manasseh, are quite strong: they keep in mind that this is an oratorio, not an opera, and they don't overwhelm the chorus, which is the central character. The Crouch End Festival Chorus sings quite intelligibly and cleanly, and there's an X factor here with the fact that the performers plainly enjoy what they're doing. It's not out of the question that this recording could propel Parry's oratorio back into the repertory; Parry has been having a moderate renaissance, and the work is within reach of amateur choral societies, whose members should check this out.