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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Performance of a Great Oratorio
This recording is in a league of it's own. It's one of the finest recordings of any Handel oratorio. Gardiner is in top form both in exucution and in creating musical drama. The orchestra and the chorus are clean and direct and the soloists are all first rate. Carolyn Watkinson, in the title role, has never sounded better. The scene between Solomon and the two Harlots...
Published on March 13, 2000 by Thomas H. Moody

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars G.F. Handel's Solomon
Every praise to this recording be paid. Great singers!
Ev'n tho' Gardiner's scissors are present too: "...I decided in the overall interest of the dramatic continuity of the piece to sacrifice Sheba's first and Solomon's last aria, and with less regret two of Zadok's airs and one of the Levite's".
He changed completely the final of this oratorio,...
Published on August 3, 1999


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Performance of a Great Oratorio, March 13, 2000
By 
This review is from: Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner (Audio CD)
This recording is in a league of it's own. It's one of the finest recordings of any Handel oratorio. Gardiner is in top form both in exucution and in creating musical drama. The orchestra and the chorus are clean and direct and the soloists are all first rate. Carolyn Watkinson, in the title role, has never sounded better. The scene between Solomon and the two Harlots is brought vividly to life by the wonderful Joan Rodgers and Della Jones along with Watkinson. Here the singers, along with Gardiner and the orchestra, sucessfully create a scene of pathos and spitfire vengeance - all at the same time. Rodgers brings heartbreaking sympathy to her character - the First Harlot and Jones delivers a truly stunning depiction of hatred and jealousy in her portrayal of the Second Harlot. This scene sizzles (unlike the recent McCreesh recording). Barbara Hendricks is stately and regal in the role of the Queen Of Sheba. Her performance of "Will the Sun Forget to Streak" is a gem. Not only is the aria truly gorgeous, but Hendricks' delivery is straightforward and her diction is incredibly clear and precise. This aria is definately one of the highpoints of the oratorio and reminds the listener of what is to be learned from the great deeds of Solomon Appearing near the end of the work, it's pivitol to the summation of the entire composition. Purists will quibble with some of the cuts Gardiner has made, but in listening to the new McCreesh performance, which is complete and uncut, one can see why Gardiner cuts what he does (perhaps with the exception of Sheba's first aria)and what he was trying to achieve by doing so. This is a recording that every serious classical music lover should not be without.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solomon has a great English King, April 17, 2004
This review is from: Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner (Audio CD)
This Biblical oratorio by Haendel is a masterpiece. Haendel's Biblical oratorios are an essential moment in the development of Western music. It deals with a sacred subject but the objective is no longer to educate the people in their religious belief, like Bach's Passions, but to entertain the court and the cultured audience of the Restauration's third king. This particular oratorio is a way to thank George II for the hospitality he granted Haendel with in England. Three acts, three moments of Solomon's greatness. First the building of the Temple and the establishment of the kingdom. It is centered on one feeling : Solomon's love for his Queen and the merging of their love with nature. God has become an abstract being that can be experienced in human feelings like love and in nature. God is everywhere. « All is pious, all is great ». This first act only lightly alludes to the three people Solomon had to put to death to establish his power : Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei. Second the famous court decision by Solomon about the baby and the two women who claim him as their son. In semitic terms this case is impossible because there are no witnesses. Solomon then has to use a subterfuge to trap the two women in their feelings and reveal the one who is the real mother : one is satisfied with the death of the child because she is vengeful for having been reported as a child thief ; one prefers dropping her claim and save the life of the child, her child. It is the motherly attitude that convinces Solomon that this latter one is the real mother. Solomon is a king of justice. Third the visit of the Queen of Sheba, marvelously sung by Barbara Hendricks. Solomon welcomes her, as he should and must, but he falls in love with her and has to step over this obstacle and give the upper hand to virtue, which is not that easy to do nor to have the Queen of Sheba accept. But after the tempest everything goes back to normal. And this virtuous victory is another sign of Solomon's greatness. The music is light, dramatic, intense at times, always magical. It is a musical pageant. But the most surprising element is the fact that Solomon is sung by a mezzo-soprano, a woman, and it is quite audible. What is the point of this shift ? Was the choice between a castrato and a mezzo-soprano, or soprano ? Maybe. But if this Solomon is supposed to represent George II, the English monarch, and the English monarchy, this alliance between a female unicorn and a male lion, this woman in military outfit, we do need to have a voice that sounds feminine even if it sings the part of a man. The mezzo-soprano is slightly lower than the two queens who are sopranos, hence more masculine than them, and yet the high-pitched voice gives this king a youthful resonance that a tenor might not have had (it would have been more adult) nor a lower voice (it would have sounded plain old). Here Solomon is nearly a teenager, definitely a young man. And Haendel uses this element marvellously in many places : the various duets with his Queen or the Queen of Sheba, but also the duet with the false mother, a mezzo-soprano too. By making Solomon sound younger and more feminine, Haendel gives him a deeper and wider greatness : he will be a good king for a long time. And this is addressed to George II. What a compliment.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars G.F. Handel's Solomon, August 3, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner (Audio CD)
Every praise to this recording be paid. Great singers!
Ev'n tho' Gardiner's scissors are present too: "...I decided in the overall interest of the dramatic continuity of the piece to sacrifice Sheba's first and Solomon's last aria, and with less regret two of Zadok's airs and one of the Levite's".
He changed completely the final of this oratorio, the question is: Should Mr. Gardiner choose what we have to listen to?
The answer, absolutely NO.
I prefer McGegan's system: He puts the whole music in the CDs; so with the CD player system everyone can program the sequences of the work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a voice teacher and early music fan, August 6, 2007
This review is from: Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner (Audio CD)
'SOLOMON ' IS PROBABLY THE MOST LAVISH AND MAGNIFICENT OF HANDEL'S ORATORIOS.

In this one he demanded a grander, more sumptious orchestra than in any earlier oratorio, and it contains a high proportion of choral music written in his most imposing and ceremonial style.

In fact, the choruses are the pillars of the whole piece; but their function is not primarily dramatic, except for the Queen of Sheba's masque in Act.III. They are not actual participants in the drama, as they are in some of the oratorios, but they do set the mood for the development of the drama by means of the soloists and the orchestra.

The chorus is divided into two fourpart choirs, and nearly always it is the strings and trumpets together, along with the timpani, which accompany the first choir, while the horns and woodwinds accompany the second choir.

It was the summer of 1748 that Handel composed his oratorio 'Solomon' which depicts a wise and God-fearing ruler, with Solomon's court presenting the image of an ideal society. The central theme of the libretto originates from the old testament the book of Kings (1st Kings 1-11) and the Chronicles (2nd Chronicles 1-9).

This oratorio is not distinguished with a dramatic plot, but rather juxtaposed pictures and scenes. With two choirs and seven eight-voiced choir parts Handel makes use of all of the existing composition possibilities.

This is a first-rate well-done production as one might expect from Gardiner and his Monteverdi Singers. The Singers are superb: sonorous tone quality, good vocal balance, clear and precise diction and good emotional investment. Gardiner's tempos are upbeat, and even the slower selections have a bouyancy and a moving forward that many choirs (prof. or otherwise) often lack.

The soloists sang with great skill and the individual characterizations were quite impressive, but as with many Gardiner productions, the chorus 'steals the show'.

The one thing that bothered me was the fact that the part of 'Solomon' was sung by a female soprano(Carolyn Watkinson); not that she did not sound good, because she handled the part expertly. But with all those treble voices it became challenging to discriminate between them. One has to wonder why Gardiner did not choose a male alto as Jurgan Budday did in his Maulbronn 'Solomon' (Michael Chance). 'And because of this, I prefer listening to that , but take your pick. Either way you're a winner!!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great CD - choruses a little difficult to understand, October 6, 2000
By 
"songbear" (Ashburn, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner (Audio CD)
This is a wonderful sounding set. The material is among Handel's finest and the solo performances (Carolyn Watkinson as Solomon is dynamite!) are wonderful - clear, articulate, and not overwrought. The chorus performs well - but their diction becomes an acoustic mush as some of their hard consonants get lost in the cathedral or hall where this was recorded. But worth the price to hear Anthony Rolfe-Johnson. One Gardiner's best efforts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars May be almost as good as 'Messiah'. Buy It., December 7, 2006
This review is from: Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner (Audio CD)
'Solomon' by George Friedric Handel is another English Language oratoria, which, to my amateur ears, has none of the dull recitives of some of his other works, such as 'Joseph and his Brethren'. And, it's choral work, especially in the opening act is simply gorgeous.

I do not have the very best ear for recording quality or the quality of performances, but the numerous plaques on the cover of the CD testify to numerous awards, and the superior quality of this performance and its recording even reach my uneducated ears intact.

If you just wish to have a few of Handel's better Oratorios, this one should definitely be on your short list.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner, February 10, 2011
By 
Bjorn Viberg (European Union) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner (Audio CD)
Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner is a recording under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner who leads the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir on Philips recording from 1984. The sound quality is good but not as good as that of either Harmonia Mundi or Deutsche Grammophon. The booklet is quite massive and contains 101 pages. Winton Dean has written the liner-notes. It also contains a short interview with John Eliot Gardiner. The lyrics are available in German, English and French. Recommended. 4/5.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, March 24, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner (Audio CD)
This critically acclaimed Solomon is one of the few complete Solomons around. It won a whole bunch of awards when it was released. It's too many to enumerate here. Having listened to it, I can say that it is a exhilirating performance. The Monteverdi Choir sings with astonishing virtuosity. There is plenty of gusto and precision of attack is the name of the game. The solo parts are excellently cast. This is a set that I recommend to all. Anyway, there aren't that many Solomons available. You either buy this or the other. Otherwise, don't listen but you'll miss out on a lot. Contrary to what a lot of people think, Handel wrote more music than just the famous Messiah.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Oratorio recording ever., July 8, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner (Audio CD)
Critics agree, and you will too, that Gardiner's rendition of Handel's Solomon is the best oratorio recording ever made. The performance is clean and not at all rushed. The sound is outstanding. The composition itself is excellent with some of Handel's best choruses. The package is complete with a complete libretto and excellent notes and photos.
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars G.F. Handel's Solomon, August 3, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Handel - Solomon / Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner (Audio CD)
Every praise to this recording be paid. Great singers!
Ev'n tho' Gardiner's scissors are present too: "...I decided in the overall interest of the dramatic continuity of the piece to sacrifice Sheba's first and Solomon's last aria, and with less regret two of Zadok's airs and one of the Levite's".
He changed completely the final of this oratorio, the question is: Should Mr. Gardiner choose what we have to listen to?
The answer, absolutely NO.
I prefer McGegan's system: He put the whole music in the CDs; so with the CD player system everyone can program the sequences of the work.
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