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Handel: Solomon / McCreesh, Scholl, Gabrieli Consort

Album Summary

>Handel, George Frideric : Solomon
Performers Composer

Notes & Reviews:

This new recording of "Solomon" presents for the first time the full, uncut, original version. The title role is sung by countertenor Andreas Scholl, who is making his DG debut in this recording. Rave reviews for this set include "Disc of the Month" from Classic CD and Gramophone remarked "The great success at last year's Promenade Concerts of Solomon...has, happily, led to the present recording."

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Solomon is universally recognised as one of Handel's finest masterpieces, not only with magnificent choruses, but more importantly containing rapturous love music, nature imagery, affecting emotion and the vividly portrayed dramatic scene of Solomon's famous judgement over the disputed infant. This is in fact the only dramatic part of the oratorio; and each of the female characters appears in only one of the work's three parts. Paul McCreesh, responsive to the work's stature, employs an orchestra of about 60 (including a serpent as the bass of the wind group) and presents the oratorio in the original 1749 version, full and uncut.

It's been argued that even in so splendid a work Handel was fallible enough to include some dead wood. McCreesh, however, stoutly defends the original structural balance. In one respect, though, he does depart from Handel's intentions. By the time Solomon was written, he was using no castratos in his oratorios, and the title-role was deliberately designed for a mezzo-soprano; but here the chance to secure the pre-eminent countertenor Andreas Scholl was irresistible. The colour of Handel's predominantly female vocal casting (only Zadok and the smaller-part Levite being exceptions) is thus slightly modified. This historical infidelity is one of the few possible reservations about the set, which is a notable achievement. McCreesh is fortunate in his cast, too. Predictably, Scholl becomes the central focus by his beauty of voice, calm authority, charm and intelligent musicianship. Inger Dam-Jensen, as Solomon's queen, sounds suitably ecstatic in the florid 'Blessed the day' and amorous in 'With thee th'unsheltered moor', and her duet with Solomon flows with easy grace. To Susan Gritton falls the sublime 'Will the sun forget to streak', with its wonderful unison oboe-and-flute obbligato.

As the high priest Zadok, Paul Agnew shines in the ornate 'See the tall palm'. A more positive and audible keyboard continuo would have been welcome, but this is a minor shortcoming, and the effect of the performance as a whole is deeply impressive, with such things as 'Will the sun', the grave interlude to 'With pious heart' and the elegiac chorus 'Draw the tear from hopeless love' haunting the listener's mind.


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Works Details

>Handel, George Frideric : Solomon
  • Performers: Paul Agnew (Voice); Susan Bickley (Mezzo Soprano); Inger Dam-Jensen (Soprano); Susan Gritton (Soprano); Alison Hagley (Voice); Peter Harvey (Bass Baritone); Andreas Scholl (Countertenor)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 41 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio
  • Written: 1748