Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Dettinger Te Deum [40.10]
Günther Leib, baritone
Soloists of the Great Choir of the Berliner Rundfunks
Berliner Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, Helmut Koch, conductor.
Rec: 1969
BERLIN CLASSICS 0093772BC [40.10]

Haendel began writing the Dettingen Te Deum on 17 July 1745, to celebrate the English victory over the French at the Battle of Dettingen, a few weeks earlier. The Te Deum was considered to be the only musical form appropriate to celebrating a ruler's recovery or return from battle. Also called the Ambrosian Hymn, this mass is a work for chorus and orchestra, with several arias for bass, or for bass with chorus. Haendel later reworked some elements of this Te Deum in his oratorio "Joseph and his Brethren".

This majestic, celebratory work, shows its colours from the very first notes: timpani, horns, winds and strings sound a martial call before the opening chorus cries out in glory. The work continues with a series of movements featuring beautiful choral sections, and Haendel's typical mastery of melodic accompaniment. Highly reminiscent of the Messiah, this is a work where the choir has centre-stage.

The three movements featuring bass (sung, here, by a baritone), are all very capably sung, though not overly emotional. I find it slightly annoying that, in the arioso, Bewahr, o Herr, du treuer Gott, Leib sounds a bit too Wagnerian for a Haendel work.

The choir is forceful and well-textured, but, unfortunately, this disc suffers from a poor recording. There is a certain lack of clarity in the denser sections, and the entire sound tends to mass together, giving little definition and a poor sense of space.

An attractive choral work by Haendel. Not up to par with his great oratorios, but worth a listen.

Kirk McElhearn


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