The story is another in the then-popular tales from the Old Testament tradition, this time concerning Nabal, a wealthy but mean-spirited old buffer who spurns David when he is in exile from the court of Saul. Nabal's wife Abigail, however, pledges her loyalty to the future king, and when Nabal gets wind of this he promptly dies, leaving Abigail free to become one of David's wives. The music is drawn from a broad and eclectic cross section of operas, oratorios, anthems, and cantatas, with the addition of recitatives attributed to Smith and some tantalizing musical settings simply referred to in the booklet as "source unknown."
In this live concert, recorded during June 2000, the five soloists, who share the arias fairly equally, all do good service. But the chorus lacks a little fire and could be more disciplined, and the same goes for the period-instrument Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra. Conductor Joachim Carlos Martini maintains a brisk pace that helps disguise some of the scrappy sections, however, and the result, if hardly essential, is a curiosity that seasoned Handelians will want to investigate. --Mark Walker