Wednesday, 30 January 2008

43. Jacomo Carissimi - Jephte (c. 1650)


Title: Jacomo Carissimi: The Judgement of Solomon, Jephthah, Jonah
Performers: Gabrieli Consort and Players
Director: Paul McCreesh
Year: 1986
Length: around 20 minutes


This is the first Oratorio on the list, which means a kind of mini-opera on a Biblical theme, although it is not meant to be performed as theatre different singers take on different characters and sing in character. The from would take on epic proportions with Bach's Passions for example.

For one of the first examples of its form this is pretty nifty stuff, although it is quite a bottom heavy piece. By bottom heavy I mean that you kind of spend the first 10 minutes waiting for the last 10 minutes, not because the first 10 are bad in anyway, they would be great by themselves, but the last two arias by the daughter of Jephte and the choir respectively are so great that they shine like nothing else in the oratorio.

The last choir is a masterpiece in 5 minutes, beautiful, mournful music that is one of the best choir works to have been on the list until now, not even Monteverdi surpasses it. Very highly recommended.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia on Carissimi:

The great achievements generally ascribed to him are the further development of the recitative, later introduced by Monteverdi, and of infinite importance in the history of dramatic music; the further development of the chamber-cantata, by which Carissimi superseded the concertato madrigals which had themselves replaced the madrigals of the late Renaissance; and the development of the oratorio, of which he was the first significant composer.

His position in the history of church music and vocal chamber music is somewhat similar to that of Cavalli in the history of opera. While Luigi Rossi was his predecessor in developing the chamber-cantata, Carissimi was the composer who first made this form the vehicle for the most intellectual style of chamber-music, a function which it continued to perform until the death of Alessandro Scarlatti, Astorga and Marcello.

If you want to hear the chorus go here, as embedding is disabled.

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