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Solomon Box set

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 2 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B00000JLFG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #92,997 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Disc: 1
1. Solomon: Overture (Grave) - Fuga Allegro moderato - Allegro
2. Solomon: Act I: Chorus: Your Harps And Cymbals Sound
3. Solomon: Act I: Air: Praise Ye The Lord
4. Solomon: Act I: Chorus: With Pious Heart
5. Solomon: Act I: Air: Almighty Pow'r
6. Solomon: Act I: Accompagnato: Imperial Solomon
See all 22 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Solomon: Act II: Chorus: From The Censer Curling Rise
2. Solomon: Act II: Recitative: Prais'd Be The Lord
3. Solomon: Act II: Air: When The Sun O'er Yonder Hills
4. Solomon: Act II: Recitative: Great Prince
5. Solomon: Act II: Air: Thrice Bless'd That Wise Discerning King
6. Solomon: Act II: Recitative: My Sovereign Leige
See all 19 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Solomon: Symfony
2. Solomon: Recitative: From Arabia's spicy shores
3. Solomon: Air: Ev'ry sight these eyes behold
4. Solomon: Recitative: Sweep, sweep the string
5. Solomon: Air and Chorus: Music, spread thy voice around
6. Solomon: Air and Chorus: Now a diff'rent measure try
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Product Description


It's been conventional wisdom for several generations that Solomon, great oratorio though it may be, contains a lot of deadwood; conductors have regularly cut some items and changed the order of others. Leave it to Paul McCreesh to give us the complete score--and demonstrate that Handel's original structure makes plenty of sense and that every number is worthwhile. What's more, McCreesh's performance is two and a half hours of just about non-stop magnificence. You'd think nobody could surpass Gardiner's Monteverdi Choir for precision and energy, but the Gabrieli Consort & Players do it: they're wondrously vivid, responsive to nuance, and clear in their diction. (By the way, DG's recording has thrilling separation in the double choruses.) As marvellous as Gardiner's soloists are, McCreesh's are just about their equals (though Inger Dam-Jensen as Solomon's Queen lets vibrato get the better of her first aria); Susan Gritton, Paul Agnew, and Peter Harvey in particular combine beautiful sound and diction with imaginative embellishments. Then there's the title role: yes, Handel wrote it for a female mezzo, but Andreas Scholl gives such an attractive-sounding and spirited performance that any complaint of un-authenticity seems like pedantic caviling. --Matthew Westphal

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
For those who are drawn to artists who emphasize expressiveness and variability of interpretation in their work, this recording is definitely worth owning. McCreesh allows the performance of this very moving oratorio to be intimate and thoughtful as well as thrilling. Tastes differ, and I disagree that Scholl's performance is self-indulgent. He sings the recits at the appropriate speech-pace and treats them with as much consideration as the arias, which I find refreshing. Most of Gardiner's recordings lack the elegance and patience present on this disc and most often found in the work of Herreweghe, Leonardht and Robert King.
The chorus is very well prepared and sings with a nice balance of liveliness and taste (in particular the enchanting chorus "While nightingales lull them to sleep" is enough to make you forget where you are). All in all this is an excellent example of a conductor bringing communication to the forefront and allowing musicians to be just that. For me that is what baroque music is all about.
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By A Customer on Dec 23 1999
Format: Audio CD
This was a surprise recording for me. I've never considered McCreesh to be an opera conductor. Not that I'm a major expert, but I do own a number of his recordings, and I've always thought of him as a conductor most celebrated for his liturgical performances. Well, it turns out that the familiar McCreesh is equally at home in opera as in liturgy. In fact, come to think of it, McCreesh's extroverted ("congregational") renditions of church music made him just the conductor to tackle the drama of opera. His expressive conducting elicits the best out of each performer. And what a cast! Andreas Scholl turns in a wonderful performance as Solomon. I'm one of those people who sometimes find Scholl's singing to be beautiful without passion. But no such charge can be levelled against him here. His beatiful tone is combined with excellent phrasing, aided by McCreesh's judiciouly chosen tempi. I think this is one of Scholl's best performances on disc. Incidentally, I'm happy that McCreesh opted for a countertenor in the role of Solomon - I'm really not a fan of women in "pants" roles. Two other singers clearly stand out: Paul Agnew as Zadok (one of my two favorite tenors, if anybody cares) and Peter Harvey as a Levite. Luckily, Agnew's Zadok has more to sing that Zadok on the Gardiner. In Agnew's magnificent performance, no one can claim that some of the arias he gets to sing are the proverbial "deadwood!" The female singers, especially the bright-voiced Susan Gritton, are also memorable. Bravo, Paul McCreesh!
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Format: Audio CD
One is hard put to decide which of the two available recordings of "Solomon" (Gardiner's or McCreesh's) is the better. On the one hand, McCreesh offers the entire oratorio, without cutting any arias (as Gardiner does) -- something that will appeal to all fussy Handel enthusiasts. The quality of both recordings is equally good, and the technical performance of the English Baroque Soloists and the Gabrieli Consort are equally praiseworthy. However, I find the Gardiner recording the more dramatic, fast-moving, and poignant at just the right moments. In McCreesh's performance, Andreas Scholl sometimes seems so enamored of his own voice that he drags the recitatives out so slowly as to induce soporiferousness, and nearly brings the dramatic action to an utter standstill. McCreesh's choruses are nothing short of stunning, yet every single one sounds so much like an anthem, or like the end of the oratorio, that one is surprised when the recitative picks up again afterwards and the drama moves on. I found this constant slowing down, then subsequent continuation, of the drama rather unsettling. Maybe I'm too picky, but I wish Gardiner's performance style could be combined with McCreesh's musicologically completist ethic.
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By A Customer on Aug. 2 1999
Format: Audio CD
I have Gardiner's recording of this magnificent work and have listened to it many times over and it's truly wonderful; however, this new recording is superior in almost every respect. Paul McCreesh is a true Handelian. He seems to understand this composer almost better than any contemporary conductor, even Gardiner and that is saying quite a bit. Mr. McCreesh's affinity for this music is prevalent throughout and he coaxes wonderful performances from his singers, orchestra and chorus. The fact that he chose to represent the work in it's entirety also speaks volumes about his unyielding belief that "Solomon" does not contain the "deadwood" previously attributed to it. It's nice to know that some conductors are humble enough not to feel obligated to "improve" on a masterpiece. I liken the alteration of an original musical composition to the butchering of a master painting. Just because the nose is not as beautiful as the eyes on a portrait, does not give anyone the authority to replace said nose with another, more attractive nose, or, in some cases, nothing at all, merely because they believe it's detrimental to the work as a whole. Give me a major break. In the end, everything Handel wrote for "Solomon" works beautifully and the result is the full restoration of a truly magnificent oratorio. A splendid recording, through and through with Andreas Scholl especially impressive as the wise king. The chorus, too, is nothing short of brilliant. The acoustics of All Saints Church are ideal for this type of music, warm yet ample. Should you choose to purchase this recording, you won't be disappointed. I promise!
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