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Barthold Heinrich Brockes’s Passion text is one of the most frequently set in the history of music, with two significant accounts by Telemann and Handel. First performed in Hamburg Cathedral in 1719, though probably composed four years earlier, Handel’s version was the only German text he ever used for a large-scale sacred composition. Three hundred years later, British conductor Laurence Cummings directs a fine recording of a live performance captured at the 2017 Göttingen Handel Festival. Cummings is a stylish Handelian, always alert to the composer’s innate theatricality, and throughout he encourages his forces to rise to the challenges Handel sets. All the soloists are well-suited to their various roles, but Dutch soprano Johannette Zomer and young German tenor Sebastian Kohlhepp (as Evangelist) should be singled out. This recording should do much to bestow on Handel’s Brockes-Passion the rightful place it truly deserves in the composer’s output.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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