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Solomon/Love In Bath Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 1 2010)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B0007RA7BI
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
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Disc: 1
1. Overture
2. Double Chorus: Your harps & cymbals sound
3. Recitative: Almighty Power, who rul'st the earth & skies
4. Double Chorus: With pious heart & holy tongue
5. Recitative: Imperial Solomon, thy prayers are heard
6. Air: Sacred raptures cheer my breast
7. Recitative: Blest be the Lord
8. Air: What though I trace each herb & flower
9. Air: Bless'd be the day
10. Recitative: Thou fair inhabitant of Nile
See all 27 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Recitative: Thrice happy King!
2. Air: Golden columns, fair & bright
3. Air: Beneath the vine
4. Recitative: Gold is now common
5. Air: How green our fertile pastures look
6. Chorus: Swell the full chorus to Solomon's praise
7. Recitative: May peace in Salem ever dwell
8. Air: Will the sun forget to streak
9. Recitative: Adieu, fair Queen
10. Recitative: Double chorus: Praise the Lord
See all 31 tracks on this disc

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
If you are an original instrument/as the composer wrote-it buff, read no further - this recording is not for you. But if you like solid, joyous and meaty singing and playing, with clear articulation and not-too-fast tempi, you should enjoy this 1956 arrangement and performance by Sir Thomas Beecham of Handel's oratorio Solomon. The music is all pure Handel, with exciting choruses and tuneful arias. Beecham has re-arranged the rather crummy original storyline, and filled out the orchestration, to create a rich-textured, interesting work, that makes you long for more. Listen to a modern recording of one of the original versions, and you'll find you are wishing it would end soon.

This two-disc set is filled out with Beecham's ballet suite "Love in Bath", which uses movements from Handel's numerous operas - 22 short selections, enjoyably played.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa6415978) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5d9e3d8) out of 5 stars Handel according to Beecham according to Handel?! Feb. 23 2006
By Benjamin R. Cox, III - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I studied at the University with Geoffrey Gilbert, the flautist with Sir Thomas Beecham and the Royal Phil. I was blest to be with Mr. Gilbert for about two and a half years, so I got a full serving of the world according to Sir Thomas.

If Sir Thomas said this was Handel's intention, you believed it. If you don't accept that, listen to his recording of Messiah! Anyway, this recording is definitely how Handel was done in England in the 50's. But every phrase is caressed with love and attention and the choral singing is outstanding. The "Nightingale" chorus caresses the ear with a sweetness found in no other recording. The soloists were the outstanding Handelians of their day, and the orchestra (not to be left out) does a marvelous job! Just listen to the entrance of the Queen of Sheba. And, be ready for the cymbal crashes at the climaxes of the choruses! Handel really didn't write those, but who cares? After all, Sir Thomas always said, "The British don't much like music, but they LOVE the noise it makes". In this recording you get some glorious noise! I highly recommend this, even to the most hardened purist. Take off your purist earphones and just indulge in pure musical sweetness!
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5d9e42c) out of 5 stars If You Love Beecham ... June 13 2005
By John Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
You'll love his reworkings of Solomon and the various orchestral snippets from Handel operas that he wove together to create Love in Bath. But if you're interested in faithful renderings of baroque classics, original instruments, etc., steer clear. I happen to be a sucker for Beecham's instrumentation, but authentic this album emphatically is not. My advice: forget that it's Handel. Just sit back and enjoy this album for what it is, a riotous romp and the best fifties nostalgia this side of Marilyn Monroe.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5d9e864) out of 5 stars Treasure--or Travesty? Feb. 4 2008
By Johannes Climacus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Here is one historic performance which I never expected to see reissued, despite Sir Thomas Beecham's eminent reputation. The reason is clear: the aesthetic priorities of our time uphold, above all else, fidelity to the composer's (presumed) intentions and to correct performance practice (as determined by contemporary musicological research). Beecham's recording of *Solomon* fails utterly on both counts, and therefore could be regarded as simply a travesty. Indeed, Beecham's rescorings and rearrangements amount to something like a wholesale recomposition. By omitting most of Act II (the central dramatic panel of the piece in which Solomon adjudicates the competing claims of the two harlots), moving about choruses and arias elsewhere, and reassigning the role of Solomon to a baritone soloist, Beecham turns Handel's original grand design into something like a pastoral serenata.

So, then, why do I love this recording so much? Why would I take it to the proverbial desert island in preference to period instrument performances of Handel's original conception, such as those by McCreesh and Gardiner (fine though they are)? The answer hinges on the difference between competent artistry and creative genius. Beecham saw possibilities in Handel's score which, as realized in the arrangement recorded here, turn a great oratorio (indeed, one of Handel's greatest) into something utterly magical. Yes, this is a recomposition, but one in which certain aspects of Handel's original--its sensuous beauty, charm, and majesty-- are given a chance to shine in ways which a more faithful reproduction of the score would render inaccessible. To cite just two instances: (i) In the Act I duet for Solomon and his queen, "Welcome as the dawn of day," by adding some extra contrapuntal detail scored for woodwind and a *sempre pizzicato* bass, Beecham manages to transform a charming if conventional dalliance into something far more human, and extraordinarily touching; (ii) in the Queen of Sheba's entrance aria, "Every sight these eyes behold," by the addition of some flute trills in the second half, Beecham turns what might be considered a formal gesture by one head of state to another into something beguilingly seductive, even a wee bit naughty (as if, having heard of Solomon's amorous exploits with his harem of wives and concubines, she has come to discover whether he in fact lives up to his reputation as a lover).

Indeed, the open-minded listener will delight in many such "illuminations" of Handel's score by this natty, naughty raconteur of a conductor. Not that every number is a success. In general, Beecham does better in conveying the intimacy of the amorous music, and the charm of the pastoral scenes, than the drama and sense of spectacle inherent in the great choruses (though the concluding, "Praise the Lord with harp and tongue" is truly grand, in an Elgarian sort of way). The problem may be that the chorus itself is too large and mushy of diction; smaller groups can enunciate more clearly and articulate the rhythms more incisively. The soloists do a splendid job, however. Cameron, though somewhat dry of voice, is a magesterial Solomon; Morrison a delectably naive (though hardly chaste) consort; Marshall a ravishing Queen of Sheba who rises to astonishing eloquence in her parting aria; and Young an appropriately sententious but wonderfully mellifluous Zadok.

But in the end this is Beecham's show; whatever the flaws and extravagances of his "realization", this is a *Solomon* to treasure. It is not, however, the best way to get to know the work; Handelians should first hear either McCreesh (whose version is absolutely complete) or Gardiner (regrettably pruned but incisively dramatic). Then by all means add Beecham's warmly recorded, lovingly remastered relic as a supplement if you have a taste for musicologically guilty pleasures. EMI's reissue also comes with the substantial bonus of Beecham's goregously scored ballet-pastiche, *Love in Bath.* Don't hesitate: this set is inexpensive and who knows how long it will be available?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5d9ec24) out of 5 stars Handel gets the Beecham treatment July 31 2010
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In many ways Beecham's arrangement of "Solomon" is comparable to his equally successful recording of "Messiah" (see my review) made in 1959, a few years after this one. Beecham's reverence for this music is apparent in the care he exercised in preparing a more compact version to give it more ready appeal to the audiences of the time, the enhancements and embellishments he introduced into the orchestration, and his feeling for the emotional heart of the music. He spans a wide gamut of moods, from the grandeur of the court pageantry, to the fervour and exaltation of the hymns of praise and gratitude to God, to the delicacy of little pastoral gems like "Beneath the vine", to the sheer sensuousness with which he imbues the many celebrations of erotic love.

I made comparison with John Eliot Gardiner's Rosette-winning 1984 recording and in so many points Beecham seems to me to be superior, despite what might seem to us to be his almost absurdly anachronistic and cavalier treatment of this oratorio. Before anyone complains that side-by-side comparison of Beecham and Gardiner is like comparing apples with oranges, I would point out that Gardiner is equally arbitrary in omitting five arias which he felt slowed the action. As the "plot" of "Solomon" is in any case virtually non-existent, it being essentially a static, celebratory masque, I do not see that Gardiner can claim the moral, musicological high ground as he has simply exercised his judgement as did Beecham, each according to his own era and lights. As is so often the case with Gardiner, many of his tempi are jaunty and inflexible; there is nothing remotely sensuous about his account of the sublime duet between Solomon and his queen, "Welcome as the dawn of day"; it just jogs along about as sexily as a pensioner in a shell-suit. I defy anyone to compare it favourably with the way Beecham has the two voices and melody entwine around each other. Of course, Beecham heretically rearranged Solomon's part for a baritone and I certainly think that Carolyn Watkinson's smoky alto - more like a counter-tenor in timbre than any other female voice I know - matches better in this music with the soprano as Handel intended, but Beecham's Elsie Morison, with her flickering vibrato and richer tone, has an intrinsically more vibrant, sensuous voice than Nancy Argenta's rather small, pale sound and John Cameron sings elegantly. Gardiner's Monteverdi Choir is certainly not inspired to reach the emotional heights achieved by the Beecham Choral Society; it sounds so polite and pusillanimous alongside Beecham's chorus. Just listen to the way Beecham's tenors sing out, responding to the conductor's request for commitment. Both sets feature fine solo voices; Gardiner, in addition to the noble and stately Carolyn Watkinson has the mellifluous tenor of the late lamented Anthony Rolfe Johnson, but Alexander Young for Beecham is neat and characterful and I often feel that Gardiner's brisk, metronomic approach undermines his singers' expressivity. Many have praised Barbara Hendricks' Queen of Sheba; for me, as much as I like her she has the wrong vocal personality: too vampish and not regal but she is undoubtedly alluring.

Beecham's decision to omit the whole "whose baby?" episode could rule it out for many, but he retained several of the choruses which would otherwise have been lost, repositioning them perfectly effectively in his two Act version. As the choral singing is one of the great strengths of the Beecham set, this is a welcome decision; he also ensured that he did not lose the exquisite "Beneath the vine" mentioned above, which features in the scene for the two "harlots", assigning it instead to the Queen of Sheba. Of course omitting the only real event in the plot removes one of the few possibilities of any dramatic tension and inevitably refocuses our attention on the purely musical virtues of the celebratory and erotic passages, and here Gardiner scores by presenting an engaging account of the famous judgement scene.

I realise that adumbrating my disenchantment here with the widely praised, multiply decorated Gardiner set is tantamount to my pinning a "Kick me" sign to my backside - but that's how I hear it. I hear no affection for this great work in Gardiner's treatment of it; just brisk efficiency. To me, the famous "Entry of the Queen of Sheba" sounds simply hectic, not imposing. If you love this grandest of Handel's oratorios, you might like to own both sets under discussion here as they are so different - but I wish Gardiner's direction were more sympathetic and involved.

As a result of Beecham's savage abridgement, there is ample room on the second CD for a nice, if negligible and rather quaint, bonus in the form of his "Love in Bath" suite, a compilation drawn from Beecham's surprisingly wide acquaintance with more arcane (at that time) Handel works.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5d9ed08) out of 5 stars Excellent! March 8 2007
By C. Sanchis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Despite being an arrangement done almost two centuries later, the music transports you to the Eighteen Century. The digitalized recording is absolutely incredible in sound and majesty. I recommend this CD for the individual who understands choral music, and the genius of Handel.