One of the most grown-up review sites around

53,992 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                     Editor in Chief: John Quinn              

Some items
to consider

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


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

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Recordings of the Month


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Schubert Symphony 9


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)




REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Joshua (1748)
Joshua - Kenneth Tarver (tenor)
Caleb - Tobias Berndt (bar)
Othiel - Renata Pokupić (mezzo)
Achsah - Anna Dennis (sop)
Angel - Joachim Duske (tenor)
NDR Chor
FestspielOrchester Göttingen, Laurence Cummings (direction)
Recorded live at the Göttingen International Handel Festival, 29 May 2014
ACCENT ACC26403 [47:43 + 68:02]

Joshua is one of Handel's so-called "victory oratorios": like the Occasional Oratorio, Alexander Balus and, most famously, Judas Maccabeus, it is one of the London works in which Handel used his musical subject to reflect and celebrate the victory of the Duke of Cumberland's Hanoverian forces over the Jacobite armies of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The conquest of Canaan lends itself to that theme fairly easily, but this is never mere tub-thumping. In fact, Joshua is a work of great sensitivity and breadth, including orchestral fireworks for the fall of Jericho and, most impressively of all, a very inventive treatment of the moment where the sun stands still.

The Göttingen International Handel Festival are experts in this sort of repertoire, and they have assembled a very good cast for this 2014 performance. Kenneth Tarver's bright, pingy tenor is more used to bel canto roles, but he actually suits the divinely ordained military leader very well, and he slots into the Baroque technique very convincingly, to my ears. His voice is clean, flexible, very beautiful and fully inside the demands of the style, and he is the finest thing about this recording, delivering a masterclass of Handel singing. While Kidron's brook is full of pastoral beauty, and his coloratura is very impressive in Haste, Israel, haste, as well as in the battle scenes. He is beautifully lyrical in the Passover prayer but raises impressive grandeur for the big moments of the final act. As Caleb, Tobias Berndt has an authoritative voice, and his English is only slightly accented. He is especially beautiful in the lovely Shall I in Mamre's fertile plain, the moment where the aged Caleb gets to enjoy his inheritance in Canaan, and the subsequent, meditative chorus continues the mood beautifully. The small role of the Angel isn't successful, however, as Joachim Duske's singing is slight and unfocused, while his English is rather too accented for comfort.

Anna Dennis is a rich, sympathetic Achsah, full of pathos or joy as needs be, creamy and sumptuous into To vanity and earthly pride, and conjuring up both drama and beauty for the scenes where her lover Othniel is in danger. In that castrato role, Renata Pokupić is a little less steady than her colleagues, seemingly a little less comfortable with both the language and the tessitura.  She is finally heroic in Place danger around me, however, and the two lovers' voices blend beautifully in their duets.

The chorus are all-important in this work, and the NDR Chor do not disappoint, with very good English and flexible singing that responds fittingly to every situation. The occasional orchestra are also great, the trumpets and drums revelling in the full ceremonial moments of the battles, and the various instrumental solos sounding very good, especially the winds which mimic the birds in Hark, 'tis the linnet. Laurence Cummings directs the whole thing with an unfailing ear for the drama but never losing sight of the music's beauty.

There isn't a lot of competition for Joshua on disc, so this one is all the more to be welcomed, if you can put up with the occasional accents of the non-Anglophone members of the cast. I suspect, though, that if you already have Robert King's 1990 King's Consort recording, then you won't be tempted to swap it. The packaging contains the text, alongside a contextual essay and cast biographies. The recorded sound is very good indeed, with the audience so well behaved that you forget they are there until they break into applause at the end of each disc.

Simon Thompson


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

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