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Handel: Saul Box set

6 customer reviews

Price: £24.55 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Composer: Handel
  • Audio CD (3 Sept. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Coro
  • ASIN: B008AP4M3S
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,984 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Product Description

Product Description

Renowned for their Handel interpretations, Harry Christophers and his award-winning choir, The Sixteen, add to their glittering catalogue of Handel discs with this new recording of Saul. In his biblical oratorio, Saul, Handel wrote an epic work of great and noble drama and of thrilling musical inventiveness. Saul represents Handels first proper foray into oratorio and it is a masterpiece full of great and magical moments. It is bursting with exceptional music, extraordinary orchestration (replete with trombones, deep-sounding drum and perky carillon), extended choruses both profound and ebullient, symphonies, concerto movements for organ, recitatives which explore the varying moods of the characters, and the most stunning arias. In Saul Handel gifted soloists with roles of vivid characterisation and the artists on this disc are some of the finest Handelian interpreters of today including Christopher Purves a baritone whose talent for dramatic realisation is matched by superb musical craftsmanship - and Sarah Connolly - whose intensely radiant performance of David on this CD confirms her status as one of our most sought-after Handel performers. Both Christopher and Sarah sang with The Sixteen at the start of their careers, and Sarah released her first solo album Heroes and Heroines on CORO, and so it is with great pride that we welcome them back for this recording. Robert Murray, Elizabeth Atherton and Joélle Harvey along with Sixteen regulars, Mark Dobell, Jeremy Budd and Stuart Young, complete the stellar line-up of soloists on this new recording.

Review

Sarah Connollys David is in a class of its own. Her wonderfully refined and sensitive singing, radiated with intense musicality and intelligence, made the aria O Lord whose mercies numberless a profoundly moving meditation, which must stand as one of Handels most ardent professions of Christian faith. --Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph (on The Sixteens performance of Saul at The Barbican)

Sarah Connolly's O Lord whose mercies numberless is as quietly rapturous as anyone other than the enraged Saul could desire . The Sixteen's first-class account is magnificent in every way that matters most. RECORDING OF THE MONTH GRAMOPHONE CHOICE --Gramophone, Oct'12

Handel's dramatic portrait of Saul his jealousy of Goliath's slayer, David, proves self-destructive is one of Shakespearian stature, despite a titter-provoking libretto by Charles Jennens (of Messiah fame). Christopher Purves gives vent to Saul's paranoia with trenchant diction and fulminating delivery of Handel's angry coloratura. Sarah Connolly's David is the other star, unusually but apparently authentically cast in a role once thought to have been written for a countertenor. If the rival sisters Michal (Joelle Harvey) and Merab (Elizabeth Atherton) sound samey and thin-toned, the splendid chorus makes ample amends. --Sunday Times,16/09/12

Christopher Purves and Sarah Connolly all but steal the show. Performance **** Recording ***** --BBC Music Magazine, Christmas'12

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. Hunt on 21 Nov. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I own another copy of Saul conducted by Jacobs, but listening to this recording has been a revelation to me. As other reviewers have commented, it is lively and expressive, but also compelling and provides a very dynamic line to the action (not just a collection of recitative and airs here). For this reason I am, for the first time, listening and enjoying this oratorio on par with Handel's Semele and Messiah.

The soloists are universally excellent. Of course, there are singers who one always prefers in other recordings (such as Rosemary Joshua's Merab under Jacobs); but they all work together so well that even these other favourites are not missed. Christopher Purves deserves particular plaudits as a vengeful, vile Saul and Robert Murray shows off great diction and style as Jonathan.

To pick a bone with one of the other reviews, Sarah Connolly is superb in this recording. I would also suggest that the preference for a mezzo or a countertenor is a personal choice; but it should be remembered that Handel originally intended the role of David for a mezzo or soprano (The Cambridge Handel Encyclopedia (2009), p567). However, the first performance was given by Mr Russell, who was a countertenor. This mixing of genders was not unusual in Handel works; and Handel generally employed the best available singer for a role. As Sarah Connolly is a notable Handel singer well-practiced in 'trouser roles', I feel that this is one occasion where we don't have to worry about whether this is right or wrong.

Finally, The Sixteen are on excellent form in the choruses and Alastair Ross provides some wonderful organ interludes.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a strong and often extremely beautiful version, with lovely instrumental playing, delicate, open and fresh. However, I find it difficult to engage with it fully which is partly the fault of the choice of singers. The first air is rather shrill and wobbly, creating a distinctly underwhelming opening after the stirring overture. Sarah Connolly has no such problems but her voice is not that of a youthful David. It sounds far too feminine and rather velvety, motherly. At no point does David feel male.
I'll finish by lamenting that the booklet is not included in the download, which would have made the transferring of the text/libretto to the individual tracks that much easier.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Brilliant recording of Handel's Saul with fantastic performances from soloists, especially Christopher Purves and Sarah Connelly. The Sixteen are also real stars here with fresh, crisp and blended sound in the choral segments (listen to the 'Eagles were not so swift as they' in Act 3). For me this beats the fantastic live recording by Hans-Christoph Rademann and the Dresden Baroque Orchestra (on Carus) and certainly rivals earlier recordings by Paul McCreash and the Gabriela Consort and the now rather dated-sounding John Eliot Gardiner version with the English Baroque Soloists.
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