52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  


Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
(currently suspended)


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Bruno Monteiro (violin)

More Preludes to Chopin
Kenneth Hamilton (piano)

Gloriæ Dei Cantores


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2



Feinberg Piano Sonatas

Schoenberg Violin Concerto

Early Keyboard

Nun Danket Alle Gott
Now Everyone Thanks God


Haydn Scottish Songs

Choral Music

Liszt Sonata

Renaissance Bohemia


alternatively AmazonUK AmazonUS


George Frideric HANDEL (1685–1759)
La Resurrezione - oratorio in two parts (HWV 47)
Nancy Argenta, María-Cristina Kiehr (soprano); Marijana Mijanovic (mezzo); Marcel Reijans (tenor); Klaus Mertens (bass)
Combattimento Consort Amsterdam/Jan Willem de Vriend
rec. live, 26 April 2001, Muziekcentrum, Enschede, The Netherlands. DDD
CHALLENGE RECORDS CCDVD72159 [DVD: 1.56 + 0.46 plus 2 CDs: 64:02 + 50:48]
Experience Classicsonline

La Resurrezione
is one of the works Handel wrote during his stay in Italy, from 1706 to 1710. He had travelled to Italy because of his interest in Italian opera, but when he was in Rome he was denied the opportunity to write opera. As opera performances were forbidden by papal decree, lovers of the genre looked for alternatives. These were found on the one hand in the chamber cantata and on the other in the oratorio.

Oratorio had been one of the main genres of vocal music in Italy since the mid-17th century. It was Giacomo Carissimi who played a crucial role in its establishment, but stylistically it had undergone dramatic changes. Whereas the oratorios by Carissimi and his immediate followers were written on Latin – mostly biblical – texts. These were for performance in church and had a moral objective. Towards the end of the 17th century the oratorio developed into a vocal work which had more in common with contemporary opera than with the oratorio of Carissimi's time. The texts were in the vernacular, the subject was still based on the Bible or on the lives of Saints, but much more attention was paid to the portrayal of individual characters. In the end, its main objective was to entertain audiences and to give opera singers the opportunity to shine.

When La Resurrezione was first performed, on Easter Sunday 1708, all roles were assigned to opera singers, among them two castratos. Handel also made use of the soprano Margherita Durastanti, who sang the role of Mary Magdalene. Under pressure from the ecclesiastical authorities - who opposed to a woman singing in a piece of sacred music - she had to be replaced by further castrato for the next performance.

Handel's Roman patron, Marchese Francesco Maria Ruspoli became the subject of papal wrath. It was in his palace that La Resurrezione was performed, and it was through him that Handel was given the libretto of the oratorio, written by Carlo Sigismondo Capece. He was also responsible for making available to Handel an unusually large orchestra, led by none other than the great Arcangelo Corelli. It was an event Rome had never seen before and it seems that the performances were a great success.

In the present performance of La Resurrezione the orchestra is considerably smaller than the one Handel had at his disposal: seven violins (instead of 21), two violas (4), cello (5), double bass (5), two trumpets (2) and two oboes (4), plus bassoon, viola da gamba, flute and two recorders. Even if one takes into account that the modern instruments used by the Combattimento Consort Amsterdam produce a bigger sound than their baroque counterparts, this means that some of the impact of those first performances must be lacking here.

Even so I am generally pleased with the performance. Over the years Jan Willem de Vriend has shown a great skill for exploiting the dramatic aspects of the baroque repertoire, whether it be vocal or purely instrumental music. He has a great feeling for the rhetorical character and affects of the repertoire he performs. This is reflected in the phrasing and articulation, the differentiation between notes and the dynamic shading. This recording is no exception. The result is a very theatrical performance which brings the conflict between good and evil, represented by the angel and Lucifer respectively, and the emotions of the three human characters well to the fore.

As far as the soloists are concerned, I am mostly impressed by the contributions of María-Cristina Kiehr as Mary Magdalene (Maddalena), who is torn apart between hope and fear. Ms Kiehr explores this inner conflict well and brings much passion and warmth to her role. Nancy Argenta's voice is much cooler, and therefore is well-suited to the role of the angel (Angelo). She is very communicative, announcing her news of Jesus' resurrection to the audience and to her opponent, Lucifer. I would have preferred it had she done so with a little less vibrato, though. In loud passages her voice tends to get a bit shrill. Marijana Mijanovic gives a good account of the role of Cleophas (Cleofe), but I found it difficult to watch her perform because of her highly exaggerated facial expressions. Klaus Mertens sings beautifully as ever, but I find his performance a little too soft and friendly. A bit more rudeness and malice wouldn’t have gone amiss. In this respect David Thomas - in Christopher Hogwood's recording on Decca - is still unsurpassed. The least satisfying performance is that of St John (Giovanni). It is in any event a role in which drama plays little part, and Marcel Reijans, a seasoned opera singer, tries to make a bit too much of it. He also has a problem with the tessitura of his part, which could be the result of playing at modern concert pitch. If a low pitch had been used – as period instrument ensembles do – it would have been much less of a problem. At the same time a lower pitch would have lent Lucifer's role a bit more weight, and maybe Nancy Argenta would have been more comfortable on the highest notes.

This production consists of a DVD and two CDs. The latter contain the audio track of the DVD. I assume anyone buying this set will start by watching the DVD. As the performance was given in a modern concert hall without much atmosphere, there isn't a lot to see that is indispensable or really helps to understand or to enjoy the music. It could even be the other way round, as I indicated before: looking at the facial expressions of the singers isn't always pleasant. In comparison little attention is paid to the players, which is a shame. Not only do they do a marvellous job, but also watching them play can be very interesting. The DVD contains subtitles in English, German and Dutch. I have watched the English subtitles, which are clearly readable.

I can imagine most people turning to the CDs the next time they want to listen to this performance. In that case they will miss the translation: the booklet omits the lyrics or their translation.

The DVD has a documentary about the preparation of this project. Jan Willem de Vriend visits two important spots: Handel's birthplace, Halle, and the German city of Münster, where the so-called Santini collection is preserved. This contains a number of Handel's compositions, among them La Resurrezione. He is accompanied by an elderly lady, who was the main sponsor for this project and left her inheritance to the ensemble when she died in 2005. Her contributions are well spent and this documentary is a fitting tribute to an enthusiastic and knowledgeable Handelian.

To sum up: the recording by Christopher Hogwood mentioned above remains my favourite recording of La Resurrezione. It has no real weak spots and Hogwood's orchestra is of the size Handel had at his disposal in 1708. The present recording is first and foremost recommendable because of the dramatic reading of the orchestral score and - as far as the vocal soloists are concerned - the contributions of María-Cristina Kiehr.

Johan van Veen


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.