Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|George Frideric Handel, Joachim Carlos Martini, Stephan MacLeod|
Handel - Saul / S. MacLeod · Cordier · Schoch · Schlick · McFadden · Beekman · G. Schwarz · Frankfurt BO · Martini
The oratorio Saul tells a focused story: jealous of young David's popularity after his victory over Goliath, King Saul orders his son Jonathan to murder him. Jonathan, David's best friend, refuses. Saul dissimulates, but w... more »
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The oratorio Saul tells a focused story: jealous of young David's popularity after his victory over Goliath, King Saul orders his son Jonathan to murder him. Jonathan, David's best friend, refuses. Saul dissimulates, but when Jonathan produces David, he tries again to kill him. In an attempt to assuage his fears, Saul has the Witch of Endor call up the spirit of the Prophet Samuel, who promptly informs him that, on the morrow, there will be a great battle in which Saul and Jonathan will be killed, and that David will inherit his kingdom. Although biblical, the story is on a human rather than epic scale, allowing Handel many opportunities for character development, as well as clever instrumental effects. (For example, the witch's bassoons, or the long series of interrupted laments David sings in the third act.) The individual movements tend to be shorter than is usual for Handel, so that the work seems to move along quickly, rather like another oratorio with a compact plot, the splendid Athalia. This performance is excellent; all of the soloists are strong, although Cordier's David takes on a weak edge at times. Very good recorded sound. --Paul Turok
Another Naxos good-for-the-price
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Another near-hit: the Handel Saul done by Martini and the Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra. The soloists are generally quite good, especially Macleod's Saul; and Barbara Schlick warbles prettily as usual. David Cordier's David is rather watery, and more than usual David and Johnathan sound like they're about to bop down together to shop for window treatments. The period-instruments orchestra is top-notch, and the recorded sound is vivid (and quite resonant) and lively (befitting a live recording). But the chorus -- the Junge Cantorei -- indeed sounds young and LARGE. They pack a punch in the loud bits but are quite blurry and sometimes not quite getting all the notes. And fatigue seems to set in in Act III for everyone involved (partly Handel's fault; after Saul is buried, attention flags). Certainly worth the price (for the instrumental playing and soloists, certainly), but not the only Saul you'll ever need."
A fine recording
Romeo | nz | 03/30/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Saul is an epic oratorio, and contains much fine music. McFadden is a sublime soprano, and not recognised enough I believe. She sings with complete assurance, pinpoint accuracy, beautiful rich but clear tone, without the lack of expression some other pure-voiced sops suffer. It would be worth buying the disc for her alone. Schlick is also a fine sop, but very much second to McFadden - strangely enough, Schlick is very similar to Lynne Dawson who sings the same role (Michal) in John Eliot Gardiner's version. The other soloists are all pleasant enough, although I would place Alastair Miles above MacLeod for his more authoritative, polished performance of Saul, John-Mark Ainsley above Schoch and Derek Lee Ragin's incomparable voice above any other countertenor, so must vote for JEG's Saul. The choir sound rather large and as though they are wading through deep mud at times, but in some choruses (esp the initial and final) the effect is quite thrilling and awesomely huge and overpowering. Hard to judge from excerpts over the net! Well worth buying, but to go one better I would opt for the JEG version."
Is there an infinite quantity of great music?
A. G. Plumb | Melbourne, Australia | 03/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have always loved Handel's music - all the popular favourites and some less well known works such as Acis and Galatea and Alexander's Feast. When I purchased this economy edition of Saul I had vague recollections of the dead march and little else. But there is a wealth of great music in this opera/oratorio. I especially like the duet and following chorus nos. 19 and 20 on disc 2 (you can sample it here for yourself, but there is a lot to like about the music that the sample doesn't reveal). It makes me wonder how many great works are 'lost' to us, waiting to be restored to publicity. Of course not every work can be equally popular and exposed, but I for one do not regret missing a couple of listenings to Messiah to squeeze in Saul."