Mallon’s recording of Handel’s epic oratorio Israel in Egypt, made in association with the Grand River Baroque Festival and recorded in Toronto in January of 2008, has now been released! The Aradia Ensemble is thrilled to have this volume in its discography, and it is already garnishing a very positive response in the musical community.
“Kevin Mallon is establishing himself very quickly as Canada’s crown prince of period performance. Not that we should forget his Irish roots or his work with the Cork Opera or even the fact that frequently he is invited to guest-conduct standard repertoire and contemporary music. It is, however, the music of the Baroque that Mr. Mallon delivers to our eager ears with great aplomb. Aradia Ensemble is a wonderful grouping of very talented musicians and Mallon’s recent artistic appointment as the director of Grand River Baroque Festival in Ayr, Ontario bodes well for a continuation of this trend. This recording of Handel’s oratorio, second in the minds of the admirers only toMessiah, is a good example of how carefully and sensitively these musicians handle the score. Moreover, the cast of mostly very young soloists provides a uniformly excellent vocal tone, with all of them performing this well known, well loved oratorio with enthusiasm and talent. Though considered a failure in Handel’s times, Israel in Egypt is anything but. Sure, it suffers the usual sins of a Baroque oratorio: repetitions, extensive borrowing from other works and even other composers (I guess today we would call the lengthy quote from Stradella’s Qual Prodigio plagiarism) – but it also delivers stirring and beautiful music, set to some of the most dramatic biblical episodes. Had it been written as an opera, rather than an oratorio, I am sure it would have been Handel’s greatest triumph. With the universally know libretto – 10 plagues, burning bush and parting of the Red Sea – great choruses and some of the best arias, it would have given Aïda a run for its money. As is, it is a great showcase for Aradia’s and Kevin Mallon’s abilities.”