Oratorio Music Concert Filharmonia Narodowa

Go to content
Oratorio Music Concert
Ingrida Gápová, photo: Aciuro Studio

George Frideric Handel spent his whole life experimenting with various genres. Just when it seemed that a decline of interest in his operas would force the Saxonian into an early retirement, he enjoyed a resurgence in a genre that he reformed – nowadays known as the English oratorio. Here Handel relied on what the British have been famed for to this day – excellent choirs, some with a tradition stretching back for hundreds of years. In few of his works does the choral part play such an important role in terms of drama and illustration as in Israel in Egypt. Suffice it to mention that there are just a handful of numbers with solo parts here. Among the most attractive moments in this work are the grotesque, thrilling and at times utterly shocking musical tableaux of the famous Egyptian plagues. Hopping frogs are depicted by means of playful dotted rhythms. The intolerable buzzing of flies is imitated by rapid violin passages. The plague of hail begins with the gentle ‘precipitation’ of single notes, passing into an increasingly fast and elemental storm, full of ‘atmospheric discharges’ in the kettle drums. That violence abates for a while thanks to a fantastically depicted darkness – so dense that it was ‘palpable’, as specified in the libretto. The grand and shocking finale to the series of plagues is the extermination of the first-born sons, where a dramatic fugue resounds against chords that pulsate like fatal blows.

Bartłomiej Gembicki


Jan Willem de Vriend

Jan Willem de Vriend is principal guest conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille and Stuttgarter Philharmoniker. He makes regular guest appearances with such ensembles as the Belgian National Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre national de Lyon, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tonhalle- Orchester Zürich, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.

Jan Willem de Vriend first established an international reputation as artistic director of the Combattimento Consort Amsterdam, which he founded in 1982 and led from the violin until 2015. Specialising in music of the 17th and 18th century, and applying historically informed practice on modern instruments, the consort gave new life to many rarely heard works. Its collaborative spirit lives on in Jan Willem de Vriend’s approach as he explores and energises the symphonic repertoire, in particular the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Johann Strauss.

In the field of opera and vocal-instrumental repertoire, Jan Willem de Vriend and Combattimento Consort Amsterdam gave performances of works by Claudio Monteverdi, Joseph Haydn, George Frideric Handel, Georg Philipp Telemann, and Johann Sebastian Bach (the ‘Hunting’ and ‘Coffee’ cantatas at the Bachfest Leipzig), all in stagings by the director Eva Buchmann. Operas by such composers as Mozart, Verdi and Cherubini featured in his seasons as chief conductor with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra (Het Orkest van het Oosten), which included a visit to Switzerland with productions of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Gioacchino Rossini’s La gazzetta, again directed by Eva Buchmann. Jan Willem de Vriend has also conducted opera in Amsterdam (Nederlandse Reisopera), Barcelona, Strasbourg, Luzern, Schwetzingen and Bergen.