miércoles, diciembre 14, 2016

The Handel Society celebrates its 25th anniversary with “Deborah”

            The Handel Society has been led since its inception by Sergio Siminovich, and as they celebrate their 25th anniversary they must be feted, for they have given us all the oratorios written by George Frederick Handel. Most people know "Messiah", certainly the greatest, but there´s a lot to admire in many others, such as "Israel in Egypt", "Solomon" or "Samson".

             The Society has never had a steady place to present these big works and sometimes the acoustics were wrong, or the available artists weren´t quite up to the requirements. And Siminovich´s temperament, certainly a true believer, tended to exaggerations in gestures and phrasings. But in recent years he has managed to find both a more serene approach and collaborators of greater accuracy.

            In fact "Deborah" has only one recording in my CD catalogue and was quite new to me. In three parts and about two hours and a half, it tells the story found in Judges of Deborah and Jael who with the courage of male heroes defend their people against the Canaan army. The rather poor text of Samuel Humphreys belabor redundantly the same basic facts, but there are fine arias and choruses to compensate, and I was glad to hear them.

            One basic factor was for the best: they had this time the fine acoustics of the Iglesia Metodista Central, for decades the home of the Bach Academy. The choir numbered 68 and balance would have been better with not so many women, but they sang well. The historicist Baroque Orchestra, 22-strong, was good. The most experienced soloists were British tenor Philip Salmon, the veteran American bass James Marshall and countertenor Pablo Travaglino. The young fresh voice of Marita Novau as Deborah and the expressive Flora Gril as Jael were complemented by the promising Julieta Giordano and Helena Zudaire as Israelite Women. Eduardo Cavallo and Ricardo Cohen completed the cast as High Priests of Baal and Israel.


For Buenos Aires Herald