Notes & Reviews:
Harry Christophers and The Sixteen are revered for their performances and recordings of Handel's great oratorios, and they add to their stunning collection with this new recording of Saul. In his Biblical oratorio, Handel wrote an epic work of great drama and thrilling musical inventiveness. He gifted his solo singer's roles with vivid characterization - and in Christopher Purves as Saul we have a baritone whose talent for dramatic realization is matched by superb musical craftsmanship. Sarah Connolly, who sings the role of David, has become one of the most sought-after Handel interpreters.
Sarah Connolly seals her reputation as our best Handel mezzo in many years.
Sunday Times, September 2012
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.
International Record Review, October 2012
Christophers is, on the whole, a lively and mainstream Handelian...The set is worth having for Connolly's singing of [David's] aria alone...Purves's volatile Saul strikes me, too, as a prime asset...none of his colleagues in the older sets suggests the gradual slide into paranoia and derangement as Purves does here. His text is immaculate, his coloratura clean and precise, never blustery.
Gramophone Magazine, October 2012
[Christophers's] ever-sure handling of choruses, sensitivity to the needs of solo singers and affinity for the orchestral grandeur or Handel's most elaborate score mark him out as an honest, natural Handelian conductor...Purves charms, broods, fumes implacably, plots villainously and confronts his doom vividly in the manner of a Shakespearean tragedian...The Sixteen's first-class account of Saul is magnificent in every way that matters most.
The Times, September 2012
With his acting chops and weighty bass-baritone, Purves in full cry is a splendid and fearful spectacle. But balm is at hand from Sarah Connolly's David...She's at her peak singing O Lord, Whose Mercies Numberless in Act I, channelling her eloquence through the words rather than any elaborately beautified tone...Buy with confidence.
American Record Guide, January/February 2013
Of the many recordings this great work has been given, some are more effective than this. The most recent one under Hans-Christoph Rademann (Carus 83243, 3SACD: S/O 2009) has an impressive cast and some really fine choral work. For particularly intense theatrical feeling, there is the extra-speedy Jacobs recording (Harmonia Mundi 901877, 2CD: J/F 2006), but for all-round musicality and drama my foremost recommendation remains McCreesh.
Recording information: St Augustine's Church, Kilburn, London (01/2012).
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Works DetailsHandel, George Frideric : Saul
- Conductor: Harry Christophers
- Ensemble: The Sixteen
- Notes: Composition written: 1738.
- Running Time: 140 min. 25 sec.
- Period Time: Baroque
- Form: Cantata/Oratorio
- Written: 1738