Stirring choruses, graphic musical imitations of hailstones, fire, plagues of frogs and flies, galloping horses and the waters of the Red Sea will feature when the Consort of Twelve and the Portsmouth Baroque Choir collaborate in one of Handel’s greatest and most dramatic oratorios, Israel in Egypt.
Following on from their successful Festival appearances in 2014 (Handel’s Messiah) and 2019 (Bach’s B Minor Mass), Portsmouth Baroque Choir and period instrument group The Consort of Twelve combine to present Handel’s dramatic oratorio Israel in Egypt. Second only to Messiah in popularity, the work tells the story of the Israelites’ escape from the rule of Egypt.
With a text taken entirely from the Bible, it is the chorus that carries most of the drama forward. Part one centres around the 10 plagues unleashed upon the Egyptians, with Handel’s word-painting skills brought to the fore. Part two is an extended celebration after the Israelite’s escape through the waters of the Red Sea. Most of the relatively few solo and duet arias are to be found in this half of the work.
Both performing groups are celebrating their 40th anniversaries this year (Portsmouth Baroque Choir’s was last year but celebrations have had to be deferred until now), so it is fitting that they join forces again for this concert.