Handel, arr. Mendelssohn: Israel in Ägypten

Handel, arr. Mendelssohn: Israel in Ägypten


Carolyn Sampson soprano
The King’s Consort
Robert King

“Enthusiastically recommended to Sampson’s many admirers and Handel lovers alike”

“This entrancing disc – Robert King’s consort is a British treasure”
(Otago Daily Times)



Mendelssohn’s astonishing 1833 reconstruction of Handel’s great oratorio Israel in Egypt came about thanks to Mendelssohn’s lifetime fascination with the music of Handel. In London in 1829, the 20-year-old Mendelssohn excitedly studied sixty volumes of Handel’s music. Israel in Egypt particularly fascinated him. He saw that Handel’s manuscript contained movements not included in what was then the only available published score. Four years later, in 1833 in Düsseldorf, he performed, to great acclaim, his version of Handel’s Israel in Egypt.

That historic performance has itself now been painstakingly reconstructed from fragments and sources across Europe: and radically different it is to Handel’s 1739 score. The large and colourful orchestra play nineteenth-century instruments, producing vivid new sonorities, and including very different orchestrations. With no organ at his performance, Mendelssohn scored the continuo part into the orchestra, making especial use of a pair of clarinets. He also added a series of recitatives, accompanied by the delicious combination of two solo cellos and a double bass. There are significant changes to the order of movements, as well as new numbers. The text is sung in German, and the work starts with a thrilling, pure-Mendelssohn overture, which mixes life and energy with moments of exquisitely shifting instrumental colours.

Mendelssohn’s 1833 score was reconstructed by Robert King for performance in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Mendelssohn Festival before heading into the studio. There is fine solo singing from sopranos Lydia Teuscher and Julia Doyle, alto Hilary Summers, tenor Benjamin Hulett, and bass Roderick Williams, and striking chorus work from the large double-choir. Incorporating early nineteenth-century performing practice – bringing a notably different approach to portamento, rubato, vibrato, trills and slurring – and pitched at A=430, here is a familiar work in wholly new clothing.

Track Composer Title Duration Play
CD 1
1 Handel / Mendelssohn Overture 9’31  
2 Handel / Mendelssohn Nun kam ein neuer König 0’23  
3 Handel / Mendelssohn Aber die Kinder Israels schrien 3’23  
4 Handel / Mendelssohn Da sandt’er Moses 0’39  
5 Handel / Mendelssohn Aber die Zaub’rer auch 0’32  
6 Handel / Mendelssohn Und Frösche ohne Zahl 2’22  
7 Handel / Mendelssohn Die Plage wich 0’14  
8 Handel / Mendelssohn Er sprach das Wort 2’06  
9 Handel / Mendelssohn Dies neue Wunder 0’31  
10 Handel / Mendelssohn Doch Pharao trotzt 0’25  
11 Handel / Mendelssohn Hagel statt Regen 2’17  
12 Handel / Mendelssohn Pharao sah’s an 1’05  
13 Handel / Mendelssohn Moses verließ die Stadt 0’14  
14 Handel / Mendelssohn Als Pharao alles friedlich ruhen sah 0’33  
15 Handel / Mendelssohn Er sandte dicke Finsternis 3’17  
16 Handel / Mendelssohn Doch als nun Pharao 0’37  
17 Handel / Mendelssohn Er schlug alle Erstgeburt’ 2’40  
18 Handel / Mendelssohn Aber mit seinem Volke 4’31  
19 Handel / Mendelssohn Und Israel war befreit 0’19  
20 Handel / Mendelssohn Hoffnung lindert unsre Schmerzen 3’38  
21 Handel / Mendelssohn Er gebot der Meerflut / Er führte sie hindurch 1’51  
22 Handel / Mendelssohn Aber die Fluten überwältigten 1’07  
CD 2
1 Handel / Mendelssohn Moses und die Kinder Israel 0’57  
2 Handel / Mendelssohn Ich will singen meinem Gott 2’34  
3 Handel / Mendelssohn Der Herr ist mein Heil 4’19  
4 Handel / Mendelssohn Er ist mein Gott 0’48  
5 Handel / Mendelssohn Die Tiefe deckte sie 1’56  
6 Handel / Mendelssohn Deine Rechte, o Herr 2’00  
7 Handel / Mendelssohn Die Himmel sind dein 2’30  
8 Handel / Mendelssohn Und von dem Hauch 3’02  
9 Handel / Mendelssohn So dachte der Feind 2’15  
10 Handel / Mendelssohn Aber du ließest wehen 2’12  
11 Handel / Mendelssohn Wer ist dir gleich, o Herr 2’24  
12 Handel / Mendelssohn Das hören die Völker 5’30  
13 Handel / Mendelssohn Bringe sie hinein 3’21  
14 Handel / Mendelssohn Der Herr ist König (I) 0’38  
15 Handel / Mendelssohn Denn die Reiter Pharaos 0’33  
16 Handel / Mendelssohn Der Herr ist König (II) 0’38  
17 Handel / Mendelssohn Und Mirjam die Prophetin 0’31  
18 Handel / Mendelssohn Singet unserem Gott 3’17  
    Total 82’03  


Download CD booklet (PDF)

“Handel’s mighty series of choral frescoes emerge in all their brilliance and incisiveness … terrific verve and clarity of texture … uniformly fine soloists … a lavishly produced booklet”
(Gramophone – Editor’s Choice)

“This one’s a winner!”
(Record Review, BBC Radio 3)

“Masterly depictions of frogs, plagues and other natural disasters”
(The Observer)

“Worth having just for Mendelssohn’s blazing, new overture”
(The Financial Times)

“This performance is a real joy”
(The Classical Reviewer)

Handel, arr. Mendelssohn: Israel in Ägypten

Lydia Teuscher soprano
Julia Doyle soprano
Hilary Summers alto
Benjamin Hulett tenor
Roderick Williams bass
Choir of The King’s Consort
The King’s Consort
Robert King conductor

CD 1 – Part I – Exodus
CD 2 – Moses’ Gesang (Moses’ Song)