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Last Thoughts, Fading Light

Donald Macleod focuses on Handel's Joshua becoming a hit and how Theodora came to flop.

This week Donald Macleod focuses on Handel the organist. Today, Joshua's a hit, Theodora's a flop - as Handel said, "there was room enough to dance there, when that was performed".

Written at great speed in 1747 during the most disastrous months of the War of the Austrian Succession, Handel's oratorio Joshua tapped in to contemporary events with a tale of conflict, heroism and deliverance, and was not surprisingly a huge success with its first audiences. By contrast, the bleak and inward-looking Theodora - about the Christian martyr of that name and her Roman lover Didymus - failed to make an impression, and ran for just three performances. It's now widely regarded as one of Handel's finest works - the last thoughts of a great master. A month after he finished Theodora, Handel noted what he called a severe "relaxation" of his left eye. Within two years his blindness would be complete. Even then he continued to play the organ, though now he had to be guided to it, then back towards the audience to take his bow.

Organ Concerto in D minor, Op 7 No 4 (HWV 309) (4th mvt, Allegro)
Bob van Asperen, organ and direction
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Sinfonia in B flat, HWV 347
Concerto Köln

Joshua, HWV 64 (Act 2, 'Glory to God!')
James Gilchrist, tenor (Joshua)
Kölner Kammerchor
Collegium Cartusianum
Peter Neumann, conductor

Organ Concerto in G minor, Op 7 No 5 (HWV 310)
Paul Nicholson, organ
Brandenburg Consort
Roy Goodman, conductor and harpsichord continuo

Theodora, HWV 68 (Act 3, 'Streams of pleasure ever flowing'; 'Thither let our hearts aspire')
Robin Blaze, countertenor (Didymus)
Susan Gritton, soprano (Theodora)
Gabrieli Players
Paul McCreesh, conductor

Organ Concerto in B flat, Op 7 No 3 (HWV 308)
Richard Egarr, organ
Academy of Ancient Music

Producer: Chris Barstow.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 9 Dec 2016 18:30

Music Played

  • George Frideric Handel

    Concerto no. 10 in D minor Op.7`4 - 3rd movement; Allegro

    Performer: Bob van Asperen. Orchestra: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Director: Bob van Asperen.
    • VIRGIN 5 45236 2.
    • VIRGIN.
    • 13.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Sinfonia in B flat major HWV.347

    Ensemble: Concerto Köln.
    • BERLIN CLASSICS:16172.
    • 28.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Joshua - Act 2; Glory to God (Chorus) [with Joshua]

    Singer: James Gilchrist. Singer: Konstantin Wolff. Choir: Cologne Chamber Choir. Orchestra: Collegium Cartusianum. Conductor: Peter Neumann.
    • MDG : 332-1532-2.
    • MDG.
    • 14.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Concerto no. 11 in G minor Op.7`5

    Performer: Paul Nicholson. Orchestra: The Brandenburg Consort. Conductor: Roy Goodman.
    • HYPERION : CDA-67292.
    • 17.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Theodora - Act 3;

    Ensemble: Gabrieli Players. Director: Paul McCreesh. Singer: Susan Gritton. Singer: Robin Blaze.
    • ARCHIV : 469-061-2.
    • ARCHIV.
    • 17.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Concerto no. 9 in B flat major Op.7`3

    Performer: Richard Egarr. Ensemble: Academy of Ancient Music.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI: HMU807447.48.
    • 9.


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