Claron McFadden soprano
Roberta Alexander soprano
Susanna ten Wolde soprano
Susanna Moncayo von Hase alto
Nico van der Meel tenor
Hans Vonk tenor
Jasper Schweppe baritone
Tom Sol bass
Musica ad Rhenum
Jed Wentz conductor
Long unavailable, the only recording of a colourful oratorio by a leading Dutch composer of the 18th century.
Born in Alkmaar, De Fesch was a virtuoso violinist and composer who held several posts in his homeland and had a number of publications to his credit before going to London in 1731. There he became De the leader of Handel's orchestra as well as composing for both the stage and the concert hall. Dating from 1744-5, Joseph was first performed at the forerunner to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, but the score fell from circulation and was presumed lost until its rediscovery in 1980. A few revival performances followed before this beautifully prepared, period-instrument recording was made in 2000.
Joseph is not a Hendelian oratorio with a hero or heroine like Samson or Esther: the theme is envy and the forgiveness found through faith in God. The concision and compactness in De Fesch's concertos is also in evidence throughout Joseph. The piece ‘was purposefully crafted in a lighter style,’ according to its conductor, the flautist and founder of Musica ad Rhenum, Jed Wentz. ‘It is pure opera seria and not really a Handelian oratorio. It has an excellent, compact libretto, charming, virtuoso arias, and a minimum of choruses.’
De Fesch’s lively and experienced sense of theatre is conveyed by this recording, made with a distinguished cast of mostly Dutch-based early music singers. ‘The performers excel in this rare literature and certainly are well cast in their respective roles… Jed Wentz elicits an excellent sound from the choir and period-instrument orchestra; both are consistently focused, eager, and highly responsive.’ Fanfare, January 2002
- Willem de Fesch (1687-1761), of Flemish ancestry, was born in the Dutch city of Alkmaar. He and his parents went back to Liege (Belgium) for several years, bit Willem returned to Amsterdam where he became a celebrated musician and composer. After a tenure as choir master in Antwerp he left for London in 1730 where he stayed till his death in 1761, a successful composer and violinist.
- De Fesch’ oratorio Joseph was premiered in 1745 at Covent Garden. Written in the grand Handel Oratorio tradition it features recitatives, dramatic arias and duets and choruses.
- The performance is on period instruments by Musica ad Rhenum conducted by Jed Wentz, the soloists include Claron McFadden, Roberta Alexander, Tom Sol, Nico van der Meel and others.
- Previously issued on the NM Classics label.