Handel: Jephtha

Handel: Jephtha
Neville Marriner
Catalogue No.

‘Jephtha’ was the last full-length composition that Handel wrote. (‘The Triumph of Time and Truth’ of 1757 was almost entirely made up of pre-existing music.) Given this fact and also that the actual writing of it was an inordinately laborious task for Handel as he fought with rapidly failing eyesight, its incomparable depth of expression and personal commitment make the whole work a profound and magnificent conclusion to his life’s output. Based on a story from ‘Judges XI’, it tells of Jephtha leading the Israelites against the Ammonites and his ultimate sacrifice. This rare recording by Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields has been reissued on CD only once, in 1990 and features a galaxy of British vocal stars – Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Alfreda Hodgson, Paul Esswood and Emma Kirkby, among them. Long unavailable, the recording is now restored to circulation, re-coupled with three arias – ‘Meine Seele hört im Sehen’, ‘Süβe Stille’ and ‘Look down, harmonious Saint’, sung by Robert Tear. Original notes and full texts are included.



Look down, harmonious Saint
Meine Seele hört im Sehen
Süβe Stille

Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor
Margaret Marshall, soprano
Alfreda Hodgson, mezzo-soprano
Paul Esswood, counter-tenor
Christopher Keyte, bass
Emma Kirkby, soprano
Robert Tear, tenor (Arias)
Southend Boys’ Choir
Chorus of St. Martin in the Fields
Laszlo Heltay, chorus master
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Neville Marriner

Recording information

Recording producers: Christopher Hazell (Jephtha); Michael Bremner (Arias)
Recording engineers: Stanley Goodall, Martin Atkinson (Jephtha); Stanley Goodall, Peter van Biene (Arias)
Recording locations: St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead, London, UK, March 1979 (Jephtha); St John’s, Smith Square, London, UK, November 1969 (Arias)


‘The orchestral playing is impeccably stylish and alive, and the soloists can hardly be faulted. Margaret Marshall … is outstanding and in the title-role Anthony Rolfe Johnson sings his coloratura arias with admirable precision’ Gramophone

‘Marriner’s performance, helped by the bright tones of boy trebles in the choruses, is refreshing from first to last, well sprung but direct in style. The recording is first rate.’ *** Penguin Guide to CDs

‘Robert Tear is in excellent voice and the trecording has all the atmospheric warmth one associates with Argo’s recordings of the ASMF in St. John’s, Smith Square’ *** Penguin Guide to CDs