Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
This new Saul, recorded live in July 2008 in the breathtaking, beautifully restored Dresden Frauenkirche, captures the grand scale, interactive drama, exciting choruses, and sumptuous, scintillating orchestral writing of Handel's huge, three-act oratorio. And of course, there are loads of well-sung airs and recits that make their dramatic points especially well due not only to the fine lineup of soloists but also to conductor Hans-Christoph Rademann's masterful pacing and careful textural balances. There is no lagging in the action--obviously a critical component in a two hour and 45-minute performance.
The competition for this
remains the still-fresh-sounding--also live--1989 recording from Göttingen, with John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists. In addition to having somewhat better soloists--including Alastair Miles, Derek Lee Ragin, John Mark Ainsley, Lynne Dawson, and Donna Brown--Gardiner's chorus and orchestra are that much more crisp of articulation and overall are more vibrantly recorded. Except for one important detail, Gardiner's is the better choice. Without question, Rademann's direction and his soloists' characterful--and scary!--rendition of the early Act 3 sequence where Saul visits the Witch of Endor and is in turn advised of his demise by the Ghost of Samuel make this the best version of this crucial scene on disc. The voices and expressive nuances of the witch and of Samuel are perfectly done, and the following chorus "Mourn, Israel" is very powerfully sung. This kind of drama is what Saul is about, and Rademann and the Dresdeners show they understand how to realize it. Strongly recommended.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Saul, HWV 53 by George Frideric Handel
Anna Prohaska (Soprano),
Timothy Mead (Countertenor),
Ditte Andersen (Soprano),
Yorck Felix Speer (Bass),
Maximilian Schmitt (Tenor)
Dresden Baroque Orchestra,
Dresden Chamber Choir
Written: 1738-1739; London, England
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